Certainly not an Olympic power, the Danish people could demonstrate how to win at being happy nonetheless. In an exhaustive polling process, Danes once again proved to be the happiest people on the planet. Of course they are relatively wealthy by any standard, but it seems the secret to happiness is more deeply buried.
Generally, a rising global sense of freedom in the last quarter-century has eclipsed the contribution of pure economic development to happiness, he says. This is especially evident in developed countries with stable economies, where the freedom of choice gained through wealth has made people happier—not necessarily the wealth itself.
What's more, "there are diminishing returns to economic progress," Inglehart says. In poorer countries, happiness can be linked to solidarity among tight-knit communities, religious conviction, and patriotism, which probably explains the happiness of some relatively poor Latin American countries, he says.
Social tolerance is another important factor in how happy a country rates itself. Over the last quarter-century, growing gender equality and acceptance of minorities and homosexuals has played a major role in those European countries found to be the most content. No. 7-ranked Switzerland, for instance, has elected two women as head of state in the last 10 years, while No. 4-ranked Iceland has recently passed laws guaranteeing virtually all the same rights to gay couples that married couples enjoy. "The less threatened people feel, the more tolerant they are," says Inglehart. Tolerance simply has a rippling effect that makes people happier. [More]
The idea of tolerance has fallen from favor in the US. How sad. It is heartening to note that even the religious right has been eclipsed by voices of tolerance, instead of jeremiads of condemnation.
Maybe we have a chance to be as happy as the Danes.