Finland takes the number one spot for the happiest country in the world. The top 10 happiest countries are, as in previous years, dominated by the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden, as well as Finland. All but two of the top 10 countries, New Zealand and Canada, are in Europe.
Not only is our happiness suffering, but so is our health (partially due to the critical link between happiness and health). Life expectancy in the U.S. has declined for the first time in decades. The average life expectancy for Americans is 78.7 years, which puts the U.S. behind other developed nations and 1.5 years lower than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average life expectancy of 80.3. Not only is it decreasing, but it’s consistently behind other developed countries. Addiction and emotional well-being are considered two key reasons.
Why is it that these countries consistently rank high in happiness? Why is it that the U.S. is dropping in the happiness ratings? What do the Nordic countries do differently that causes them to consistently rank happier? What can we learn from them?
According to an article in the HuffPost, "It’s not hard to understand why Finland is doing so well. The northern European country has a strong social safety net, including a progressive, successful approach to ending homelessness. It also has a high-quality education system, and its commitment to closing the gender gap is paying off. With a population of just over 5.5 million people, it’s the only country in the developed world where fathers spend more time with school-aged children than mothers."
Finnish society has been built in such a way that people are supported but still feel like they have control over their lives, said Anu Partanen, the author of The Nordic Theory of Everything. Partanen recently moved back to her native Finland after a decade in New York, along with her American husband and one year-old daughter.
According to Partanen, “Most people would like a life where they can get health care if they get sick, where their children get a good education, where they can work and hopefully feel fulfilled in that work, while still being able to spend time with loved ones. It’s not that Finns are necessarily looking to become immensely rich. I think Finland just does a pretty good job of helping people achieve this lovely, ordinary life.”
Partanen, said her time in the U.S. was defined by anxiety. “It takes immense energy to find the right day care, find the right school, find the right doctor, then figure out the right insurance plan and how you’re going to pay for everything, as it’s so expensive.”
High economic growth and increased income per capita does not necessarily translate into increased happiness. In reality it can come at the expense of our social connections and happiness in our daily lives. The U.S. would do well to take this message on board, said co-editor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. “We keep chasing economic growth as the holy grail, but it’s not bringing well-being for our country. We should stop our addiction to GDP growth as our sole or primary indicator of how we’re doing.”
Besides advocating and voting for change, what can we personally do to bring more happiness and well-being into our lives? Join me for my next workshop, Living A High Vibration Life, to learn how to bring health and happiness into your life. This 3 part workshop is on April 7th, 14th and 28th from 3:00-5:30 pm. Learn more and register at https://perennial-yoga.com/living-a-high-vibration-life. Let's do what we can to right the trend of happiness and overall well-being in our lives!
Here is a look at well-being index (includes happiness) by state: