The happiest people in the world pay some of the highest taxes in the world -- between 50 percent and 70 percent of their incomes. In exchange, the government covers all health care and education, and spends more on children and the elderly than any country in the world per capita. With just 5.5 million people, the system is efficient, and people feel "tryghed" -- the Danish word for "tucked in" -- like a snug child.(We had that where I grew up in the late 50's, early 60's.) Happiness also relies on social interactions. In fact the Danish government subsidizes social clubs and gatherings. Apparently what you buy doesn't influence your happiness.
Those high taxes have another effect. Since a banker can end up taking home as much money as an artist, people don't chose careers based on income or status. "They have this thing called 'Jante-lov,' which essentially says, 'You're no better then anybody else,'" said Buettner. "A garbage man can live in a middle-class neighborhood and hold his head high."
"...Denmark is what is called a "post consumerist" society. People have nice things, but shopping and consuming is not a top priority. Even the advertising is often understated. Along with less emphasis on "stuff," and a strong social fabric, Danes also display an amazing level of trust in each other, and their government. A University of Cambridge happiness study found that both kinds of trust were higher in happier places."I would bet that they don't have people willing to die for their right to bear arms either.
Another story to check out is Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness because research shows that we can indeed influence how happy we are regardless of our baseline genetic happiness. Even in America where we have just about everything going against our pursuit of happiness unless we are very wealthy and connected. There is a lot of food for thought in this article.
Unfortunately, it's stories like this "New ID rules may complicate air travel" in the news that show our government is hell bent on destroying any bit of happiness we may try to enjoy in the name of Homeland Insecurity.
Unrelated, but interesting 9 People Who Died Laughing