Why Women In Denmark Are So Damn Happy

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Each year International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. Every year since 1911 thousands of events celebrate the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action. Women’s equality has made positive gains over the years, but the world is still unequal, and women are still unhappy. But not our Danish sisters!

For the past 30 years scientific research and studies have reached the same conclusion: Danes are consistently happier than the rest of us. In 2013 the UN named Denmark happiest country in the world. So why are our sisters so damn happy?

What are the Danes – who incidentally pay the highest tax rates in Europe – doing that we’re not?

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1) BIKE THE STREETS: Denmark’s capital Copenhagen has a population of 550,000 people and 650,000 bicycles! More than half the population of the capital rides a bike to work every day. No wonder they all look like goddesses. Plus just 30 minutes of daily cycling adds an average of 1 to 2 years’ life expectancy.

2) FREE HEALTHCARE: You read right sista! The Danish government gives free healthcare to everyone. What?! And here we are, spending half our wages in doc visits and overpriced meds! But they do say a bike ride a day keeps the doc away…

3) QUALITY EDUCATION:Unemployment, homelessness and poverty are extremely rare in this country of 5.5 million people. You get paid to go to uni because well educated people get good jobs. And if you ever lose your job, the government continues to pay up to 90 % of your salary for four years!

4) NO BRIDAL PRESSURES: Women in Denmark also don’t feel pressure to get married. It’s not a childhood dream. Many have children but don’t get married, and mums get 6 to 12 months in paid maternity leave. Children have access to free or low cost childcare. As a result 79% of mothers return to their previous level of employment.

5) EQUAL RIGHTS: Denmark ranks amongst the top 10 countries in a World Economic Forum’s yearly report that measures gender equality. There’s a strong presence of women in leadership positions, and the assumption in Denmark is that feminism is a collective goal, not an individual pursuit.

6) HYGGE: In a country where the sun shines fewer than 7 hours during the height of the winter, a level of darkness that can stir s.a.d and depression,  the concept of a cozy scene, full of love and indulgence, helps mitigate the negative psychological effects. Hygge (sounds like “hooga”) means creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you.

7)  VOLUNTEERING: Denmark is a society where citizens participate and contribute to making society work. More than 40 percent of all Danes do voluntary work in cultural and sports associations, NGOs, social organizations, political organizations, etc. Danes don’t prioritize social security and safety so they can get benefits; there’s a real sense of collective responsibility and belonging.

8) WORK-LIFE BALANCE: In Denmark a typical working week is 37 hours, and employees benefit from 5 weeks of holiday a year. This means more leisure time, which is optimized in a great number of ways, like social gatherings, sports, taking a course, or joining the local book or theatre club.

9) LOW EXPECTATIONS: In Denmark no one’s better than anyone else. There’s a sense of human equality where no one judges your choice of career or lack of ambition, if you are happy with what you do, then enjoy.

10) SAFE & SECURE: Trust plays a key factor in the Danish prescription of happiness. Trusting the government, trusting the work place, the schools who takes care of your children, trusting you’re safe, with low crime and government corruption, a respected police force and friendly neighbors. It’s not unusual to see mothers leave their babies unattended in strollers outside coffee shops, and people leave their doors unlocked!

Fancy a bit of that?!

But before we all start packing our suitcases and elope to Denmark, why not think about our involvement in our own happiness, as well as the happiness of our family, friends, community and society as a whole. International Women’s Day is as perfect a time as any to ask ourselves, what can we do to improve things for everyone?

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