Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happiness Is...

So, apparently, Denmark is the happiest place on earth. Who knew? In a study directed by Ronald F. Inglehart, PhD - political scientist at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research - he discovered that Denmark is leading the rest of us in happiness points. I would have thought "The Netherlands" for all its hedonistic treasures.

The article on MSNBC is brief and obviously does not break down the scientific evaluation of the study, but I suspect there are some flaws. The two things that stand out are the that Denmark was selected because it is "prosperous", and "the most important determinant of happiness is the extent to which people have free choice in how to live their lives." Perhaps. Perhaps not.

I think alot about this topic - what makes us happy and why - and so this study caught my eye, as I'm sure it must have struck a cord with author Eric Weiner. On my more-or-less defunct blog Beyond the Exit Signs, I talked about his book The Geography of Bliss and his search for that very thing. First, he identified Iceland as the happiest place, but for reasons more substantial than that "it's properous. " Happiness to him was determined by strongholds like close-knit relationships and stability. I'm sure they have those, too, in Denmark.

What determines happiness is one of those things we tend to think alot about in the Western World and I'm not sure if we'll ever come to a resounding conclusion. What's certain though, for all its money and supposed stability, the United States is not ranked anywhere near the top of the happiest places. I would probably say less so this year than any recent year with the economy as it is. Ironically, on the same day (July 1), MSNBC also has an article that the U.S. leads the world in drug use. I feel our position slipping...

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