Did you know that Norway was just declared the happiest place in the world? According to the annual World Happiness Report, Norway beat out last year's first place winner Denmark for the 2017 designation as the world's happiest nation (155 nations were included in the survey). I found it interesting that, of the top ten happiest countries, seven are European, including all three Scandinavian nations (i.e., Norway, Denmark, and Sweden).
2017 World Happiness Report Top Ten Happiest Nations (see complete list here)
6) The Netherlands
8) New Zealand
*these two nations were tied for ninth place
Actually, for the five years in which the survey has been conducted (for some reason there was no report for 2014), the top ten happiest countries have remained pretty consistent (although Austria beat out New Zealand for a top ten spot in 2013). Only one New World nation, Canada, shows up in the top ten. In fact, the United States actually slipped from 13th to 14th place this year, and was below Costa Rica, which came in at 12th place.
So what makes Norway the happiest nation, and why does the United States fail to reach a top ten ranking? According to one article, while economic well-being is important, emotional health promoted by a strong sense of community may be even more critical. Another article states that the Nordic countries have generous social safety nets, reflecting their strong sense of community. Norway has a robust economy, but even though this declined slightly for 2017 due to a drop in oil prices, the nation's emotional and physical well-being put it at the top of the happiness list. Unfortunately, those of us in the United States do not seem to experience this same sense of community safety, which is reflected in our lower ranking.
I find it troubling that our nation is feeling unhappier than ever. And this information comes on the heels of the finding that life expectancy in the United States has declined for the first time since 1993. Perhaps if we focus more on the future and how we can work together to help ourselves as a nation rather than individually we will all be the better, and the happier, for it. After all, happy people tend to live longer and more satisfying lives, and there is nothing wrong with that!