No. 1: Denmark
Life Expectancy: 78
GDP Per Capita: $37,400
The center of world happiness is neither an Alpine fantasy getaway nor a topaz Caribbean paradise. It’s a cold, windy, maritime nation on the North Sea that Vikings once called home and which was the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The Danes proudly attribute their status as the world’s happiest country to a balance in managing a free and powerful economy, high standards in education, social safety nets, and wide acceptance of outsiders. Kate Vial, an American expat who has lived in Denmark for more than 30 years, says that the attitude among Danish people is summed up in one word—”hygge” (pronounced hooga). Difficult to translate and even harder to comprehend, hygge roughly describes a cozy, convivial sentiment that involves strong family bonds. “The gist of it is that you are not supposed to have anything to do except let go,” Vial says.
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