Do you ever think about where you would live if you didn’t live here? Would you ever consider moving to a foreign country? (I usually play this game every winter when the cold and snow get to be too much.) I often read about these studies rating the happiest countries in the world or the best countries to live in. Study after study, Denmark ranks either at number one, or in the top five. But doesn’t Denmark have a really high tax rate and isn’t it dark and frozen for half the year? How can they possibly be so happy?
I happened to be walking through the library one day and spotted the book “The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country” by Helen Russell. Yes! This book would have the answer! Helen, a Brit, moves to Denmark when her husband accepts a job working for Lego (Did you know that Legos come from Denmark?). She decides to use her time in Denmark to find out what it is that earns them the top ranking spot on the happiness charts. Each month, Helen explores an aspect of Danish society, such as education, work, leisure, health care, parenthood, and taxes, and attempts to embrace the Danish way.
The author discovers there are a few key factors that play a part in making the Danish happy. A better work-life balance, gender equality, trust in their government and their fellow countrymen, low income inequality, and a strong welfare system (yes, they pay high taxes, but they get a lot of benefits) are all important. And as for the cold? Danes practice something called “hygge” during the dark winter months, which is akin to staying at home with family and being cozy. This practice helps them to bear the long winters with relatively good cheer.
The author’s attempt at figuring out the rules for Danish life, such as the proper way to fly a flag or put out the recycling, are quite humorous, and while the Danish way of life is quite different from what we may be used to, it’s interesting to consider what we could be doing to increase our ranking on the happiness scale.
You can put “The Year of Living Danishly” on hold in our catalog right now. If you have to wait, be sure to check out “You Might Also Like These…” at the bottom of the book’s catalog page.