Saturday, June 25, 2011

#5 More than just happy....

Before I moved to Denmark, you would not believe how many people came up to me and told me that I was moving to "the happiest country in the world". I never really knew what that was all about, but since then I have heard lots about this notion of what makes a country "the happiest"....

I am WAY too practical to just accept the idea that Denmark is made up of happy people, who are constantly smiling; rather I want to know WHY. What makes this tiny country continually appear at the top of such surveys? And now I have my answer....hence today's LIKE. 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conducts an annual survey to measure those things that determine a country's "happiness level" and I am happy to report that the criteria that puts Denmark at the top are the criteria that I really LIKE about living here.
 The OECD measures a country's "happiness indicators" in 11 difference categories:
    Life Satisfaction
    Work-Life Balance
and I am HAPPY to report (pun intended!) that Denmark ranks at the top in more than 1 of these 11 categories including my "LIKE" for today... WORK-LIFE BALANCE. This criterion means the most to me simply because of the fact that I moved from the country that ranks 23rd in this category. Yes, we work HARD in Denmark and I put in many hours, but I truly feel like I work in an environment that helps me to maintain the balance between Work and LIFE... and in an environment where we actually work to live, instead of the American way of living to work....

According to the OECD:
An important aspect of work-life balance is the amount of time a person spends at work. Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardize safety and increase stress. People in Denmark work 1563 hours a year, lower than the OECD average of 1739 hours.
The more people work, the less time they have to spend on other activities, such as time with others or leisure. The amount and quality of leisure time is important for people’s overall well-being, and can bring additional physical and mental health benefits. People in Denmark devote 68% of their day, or 16.3 hours, to personal care (eating, sleeping, etc.) and leisure(socializing with friends and family, hobbies, games, computer and television use, etc.) – higher than the OECD average.

I dislike the perception that Danes don't work as hard as the rest of the world (about which I often hear people complain) just because we measure hard work by the standard we are used to in our own home countries---rather than the standard that Danes have been holding to the last few decades. And considering that the #1 export in Denmark is KNOWLEDGE, they must be doing something right.....
The research is actually pretty interesting... you can see it:  HERE.


Anonymous said...

Very great post Kelli!

I have heard sooo many things regarding Denmark and the happiness scale. And yes- more often than not I hear they don't work as hard. Well, I sometimes wonder who judges that. I mean, I consider myself a veryyy hard worker, but as your typical American, I get burnt out quick because I get such little vacation or personal time. Which ultimately causes extreme UNproductivity at work. Soooo- just because Americans may WORK more hours does not always mean we spend all of those hours actually engaged in what we are doing. :) hope you're having a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

It's always struck me as surprising that Denmark ranks so high due to the political leanings over there. But I guess the research is all about balance.

I think the rest of Scandinavia ranks pretty high (if I remember rightly?) mainly because of their attitude that kids, family life and holidays are sacred!