Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Happiness Is A Shiver Away

Yesterday I heard that a fellow lab rat at my evil global biotech company is leaving for another job. I'll call her "Lisa." She's been here as long as I have, and is extremely valuable to the company, but I hear she feels fed up with the lack of promotion. I can't imagine it (and by "can't" I mean "absolutely can"). She's moving to Boston. I may be going out on a limb, but I'm going to make the call that she is unhappy.

Well, "Lisa", cheer up! Didn't you know you live in one of the happiest nations in the world?

According to a study of "happiness levels" in almost 180 nations around the world, using a variety of databases (including, oddly, the CIA!), the United States comes in at a relatively happy 23:

For write-up and some rankings:

This link has a map:

According to the authors of the study, the best indicators of happiness for a nation are good health, wealth, and education. War and famine, for instance, bring the ratings down, of course. But I'm seeing another trend entirely. Consider the top ten most happy countries:

1. Denmark 2. Switzerland 3. Austria 4. Iceland 5. The Bahamas 6. Finland 7. Sweden 8. Bhutan 9. Brunei 10. Canada

Of the top ten, EIGHT of them are cold countries! (I'm counting Austria because of its mountains and frigid winters, and Bhutan is mostly in the Himalayas. Bhutan, oddly, is also the only country that officially measures its Gross National Happiness). This can't be coincidence. If you think about it, what do you do when it's cold outside? You stay in by a cozy fire, eat good food, curl up with your significant other – then curl up a little closer. Next thing you know…. You get the picture. That'll warm your Surbrød!

Now, there are plenty of cold countries that didn't score highly, but I still think it's a factor. The notable warm exceptions in that list are The Bahamas and Brunei, both of which are tropical paradises, but who couldn't be happy in a tropical paradise, I ask?

I would also like to add that my evil global biotech company doesn't have a site in any of those countries. Also not a coincidence, I imagine.

So, "Lisa", maybe moving to Boston isn't the answer. Maybe Denmark would be a better choice. Break out that Viking helmet and learn to eat pickled herring, baby!

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