What does it take to be happy? The Nordic countries seem to have it all figured out. Finland and Denmark have consistently topped the United Nations’ most prestigious index, The World Happiness Report, in all six areas of life satisfaction: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.
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Each year, a group of happiness experts from around the globe rank 156 countries based on how “happy” citizens are, and they publish their findings in the World Happiness Report. Happiness might seem like an elusive concept to quantify, but there is a science to it.
When researchers talk about “happiness,” they’re referring to “satisfaction with the way one’s life is going,” Jeff Sachs, co-creator of the World Happiness Report and a professor at Columbia University, tells CNBC Make It.
“It’s not primarily a measure of whether one laughed or smiled yesterday, but how one feels about the course of one’s life,” he says.
Since the report began in 2012, Nordic countries — which include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, plus the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Aland — consistently turn up at the top of the list. (The United States, on the other hand, typically lands somewhere around 18th or 19th place.)
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Are Nordic People Really That Happy?