Top of the happiness hit parade
According to the annual World Happiness Report, which lists the world's happiest countries, the people living in the harsh climes of Scandinavia have been rated the world's happiest on numerous occasions, while the sun-blessed citizens of southern Europe in countries such as Italy and Portugal are shown to be notoriously dissatisfied with life. Obviously, reports such as these should be taken with a pinch of salt, but they make interesting reading nonetheless. I have to say though, as the rain batters against the windscreen of our XC90, I’m not feeling particularly cheery. And as the rain turns to hail, I can’t help but wonder if I would feel a little happier at this moment if I was Icelandic?
In the World Happiness Report 2016, the country who came out on top was actually Iceland’s neighbour, Denmark. Switzerland came second and Iceland was ranked a respectable third. Now, this is where population comes into the picture. All three top ranked countries are all small countries, with relatively or very small, populations. Could this somehow be linked to happiness?
In search of an answer, we contacted Bengt Brülde, Swedish philosopher and happiness researcher. “It comes as no surprise that Icelanders consider themselves happy,” explains Brülde. “This is something that all the Nordic countries have in common. We are wealthy and democratic and we have great confidence and trust in one another and in our authorities. We have a high degree of individualism and excellent opportunities to live the life that we choose to live. These are some of the varying factors that contribute to feelings of happiness.”