What are the 'happiest' countries in the world?
For many of us, the "happiest" place on earth is "home" – wherever that may be. Of course, if you live someplace where the climate is mild, the scenery breathtaking, and the people friendly and open, you can consider yourself lucky.
According to the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations, the "happiest" country on earth is Norway.
Norway? Say, what? It's true – that is, if you accept the U.N.'s definition of "happiness."
Happiness isn't just about money, although it's part of it.
Real gross domestic product per capita is one of the key measurements, said the report.
Others include generosity, a healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices and freedom from corruption, the report's authors argued.
They said it's a better measure of human welfare than analyzing education, good government, health, income and poverty separately.
"The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people – their well-being," said Jeffrey Sachs, the report's co-editor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a statement.
"As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It's time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let's hold our leaders to this fact."
He just couldn't resist, could he? He had to get his little anti-Trump dig in there about the wall. Can't anybody, anywhere, post something without dousing it in politics? Sheesh.
Norway rose to the top of the rankings despite declines in oil prices, demonstrating that what countries do with their money – not just the increase in finances – matters.
"It's a remarkable case in point," said report co-editor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia.
"By choosing to produce oil deliberately and investing the proceeds for the benefit of future generations, Norway has protected itself from the volatile ups and downs of many other oil-rich economies."
"This emphasis on the future over the present is made easier by high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance," added Helliwell, who is also co-director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
"All of these are found in Norway, as well as in the other top countries."
You know what's even more important than that? Homogeneity. Currently (for how much longer is up for debate), the vast majority of Norwegian citizens are white, are Christian, speak Norwegian, and are instilled with what we used to call before it became politically incorrect to do so the "Protestant work ethic."
When everybody looks basically the same, worships at basically the same churches, speaks the same language, and understands the value of hard work, it makes it a lot easier to be happy.
The world rankings are actually about what you'd expect:
Denmark dropped to second place this year, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and Sweden (which tied for ninth place), according to the latest World Happiness Report, released Monday by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations.
Denmark has won the title three of the four times the report has been issued, while Switzerland has won the title just once.
The United States came in 14th place, dropping one place from last year.
Other superpowers didn't fair better than Northern Europe either.
Germany came in 16th place for the second year, while the United Kingdom moved up four spots to 19th place and Russia moved up seven spots to 49th place. Japan moved up two spots to 51st place, while China moved up four spots to 79th place.
People in the Central African Republic are unhappiest with their lives, according to the survey of 155 countries, followed by Burundi (154), Tanzania (153), Syria (152) and Rwanda (151).
Japan is no surprise at 51, considering its massive demographic problems. Communist China explains itself. But Germany is something of a surprise at 16.
More than unhappiness with Muslim immigrants, Germany is still suffering the after-effects of reunification. Those who live in the east, formerly controlled by the communists, are still lagging in standard of living, quality of life, and economic opportunity. Of course, they had a long way to go to catch up to the west, but the German "miracle" does not appear to have completely taken effect. No doubt, this is dragging down Germany's ranking.
Norway isn't as cold as you might think, but in my advanced years, it's plenty cold enough. Plus I don't like to eat a lot of fish. I'm sure Norwegians are happy in Norway, but I think I'm fine right where I am, thank you.