Why Scandinavians Are Considered the Happiest People in the World
Countries like Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland often rank high on lists of countries where people feel the happiest and most satisfied with their lives. For example, these countries have always been in the top ten in the World Happiness Report since it was first published in 2013. This can’t be a coincidence, and there’s definitely something special about them that makes them stand out from the rest of the world.
We at Bright Side were curious to find out why people who live in those Nordic countries are the happiest. So here are some of the reasons for that!
They value balance in life.
Scandinavians don’t strive to become billionaires. They know how to be efficient at work and enjoy it, but they also spend a lot of time with their family and friends and dedicate time to their passions and hobbies.
And having a little bit more time helps them achieve that. For example, in Denmark, people work 37 hours a week. Most employees leave work at around 4 p.m., so they have plenty of free time left. In comparison, people in other countries often work more than 40 hours per week.
To be as productive as possible and get everything done on time, Danes don’t waste time chatting with their colleagues or taking breaks to run errands. They understand that this will allow them to get the job done faster. Moreover, it’s common to combine office work and working remotely.
In Finland, employees also have the right to shift their workday 3 hours earlier or later. This flexibility lets them schedule their day according to their convenience. In Norway, employees who get sick also get up to 3 weeks of paid leave.
Vacation time is another thing that makes Denmark stand out. Employees are entitled to 5 weeks of paid vacation. And, because the work-life balance is so important for them, they’re even encouraged to take them — it’s frowned upon if they don’t. They can also get paid “stress leave” when things at work get so bad that it affects their mental health. If you are overworked or unhappy about your job, you can take stress leave and the government will offer you financial support.
They like to spend time in nature.
Spending time outdoors can have positive effects on your physical and mental health. And Scandinavians know how to make the most out of nature. Despite the cold weather, they know how to enjoy it. They even have a saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”
Their love for spending time outdoors has a name — friluftsliv. It’s an essential part of their lives, they can do it in any weather, and it doesn’t have to be a big occasion to go hiking in the forest. On the contrary, it’s something natural and casual for them.
Even companies encourage their employees to exercise and spend time outdoors. It can even be a company policy to allocate time for their employees to spend some time in nature during working hours.
New moms and dads are supported.
In Iceland, new mothers are given 9 months of paid leave, and new fathers are given 3 months. In comparison, women in the US are only given 12 weeks of maternity leave, and it’s unpaid.
In Sweden, new parents are given up to 480 days of paid leave while receiving 80% of their salaries. Expectant and new mothers are also allowed to reduce their normal working hours by up to 25% until their child turns 8 and receive a monthly child allowance until the child turns 16.
They aren’t stressed about money.
In many countries, people spend a lot of money on medical bills or just to pay for school and university. That’s not the case in Nordic countries. Healthcare and education are free. Moreover, the unemployed are also provided with support. They have unemployment insurance and child support, and they’re offered places on work experience programs.
They trust others.
Being able to trust others means they believe others are just as honest as they are and that everyone cares about the common good. So social interactions become more pleasant, as are the relationships that Scandinavians build. These relationships, in turn, can provide them with the necessary support.
Nordic countries also have a lower crime rate, so people feel safer. This security and trust can positively affect their well-being. For example, people from Scandinavian countries believe that a lost wallet will be returned to them more than people from countries that ranked lower in the World Happiness Report.
Which Scandinavian country would you like to visit? If you were born in Scandinavia or live there, do you agree with the reasons your countries are the happiest? What other reasons could you name?