A Glimpse on the Nature of Happiness Across 3 Highly Developed Countries


The definition of happiness have puzzled many for a while and led to further studies of the “Gross National Happiness” index effectively deployed in countries like Bhutan which is hailed as  the happiest sovereign land. Many nation administrators hope to adopt a similar approach to pacify their citizens in returns of keeping them in power on the next election as when one reaches the inflection point of diminishing returns of GDP, voters demands more as they increasingly feeling being left out. Unlike the qualitative nature of wealth, happiness is more like the emotional state of well-being and had different distinct meanings in different counties.

By examining how does people in general manage their happiness differently in 3 continents of Europe, Asia and North America, one knows how to strike a balance in the pursuit of happiness, sometimes, it’s just as simple as something you give yourself as behavior often precedes legitimate intention.

Denmark: All for one, one for all style

Topping the list of a 2012 UN initiated World Happiness Report is none other than Denmark scoring 8/10 and has one of the highest GDP of USD$56000, respectable wages just next to Switzerland, shortest work week as compare to other European states. Although its personal income tax bracket is as exorbitant as 68% and Good and service tax at whopping 25%, Danish has no problems as the” Robin Hood” style administrative had allocated the resources collected for cross subsidizing the less privilege group and all enjoyed the generous state welfare; free life time health coverage, 9 years of basic education, subsidy grants for University students, unemployment benefits and Government numerous skill enhancing workshops and much more.

As a results of perceived and actual strong sense of fairness and one for all, all for one inclusiveness, trust levels are exceptionally strong which led to high productivity at all aspect of life in Denmark; no tickets gantry at Copenhagen mass transit, all depends on the honesty system for commuters to purchase tickets and inspectors carry out the rare random check. There are more self-checkout counters at hypermarket than the manual line and most didn’t install the anti-theft alarm exits.

Due to its State level dynamic resources redistribution deployment, it resists the emergence of ethnic elites who are concerned with entrenching their power and are unresponsive to the need of the society as a whole. Danish uphold one of the highest standards of conducts, values and fairness, eliminating the slightest chance of social unrest and indulge in absolute pleasant and safe living environments. A typical 42 years Old Danish janitor works 21 hour per week, drawing an annual wages of US$80K and enjoy frequent off duty workouts, visiting friends, tutoring children’s homework, drives a mid size Opel and visit Greece for annual family oversea trip. Its gives a snapshots of a typical abundant and happy family lives in Denmark.

Japan: Rediscovering Happiness

In an age when information are abundantly accessible, most Japanese felt constraint in their long held traditions of respecting the public space and practice of personal self-restraints  by comparing themselves to other nations. One can only whisper in the buses and trains as all others observe strict silent. Orderly queuing up in public are the standard norm, occasionally unintended physical contact demands a full fledge head bowing sorry gestures. They are helpless but to go on with the flow in the highly populated Tokyo cosmopolitan area.

Well known for their aggressive workaholic’s dedication toward their career, one easily categorized by the way they carry out their daily routine. Sales of restaurants catered for the massive lunch time crowds in Tokyo leap as the no nonsense executives rush to eat lunch sometimes standing up facing the counters or wall finishing their meals in an average of ten minutes which is something that Danish finds ridiculous.

In a reversal of fortunes, many see their hopes dashed over Japan once prosperous economic growth, a perfect storm had hit the Imperial Japan hard with frequent financial crisis and high impact natural calamities. New generation of Japanese had been shifting the life emphasis away from solely on jobs to closer ties among families, friends and colleagues as one rediscovers the values of happiness in life

On the other hand, the frequent controversies have snapped public confidence in the ruling party and led to sagging morale among its working class residents. Many had given up on the system and learn to depend on one’s own hard work for progressing forward. The labor market restructuring  unleashed a wave of self exploration  in many Japanese  who prides itself on the upholding of life time employment practice where one honor the seniority prioritizing system where one who makes it is as equivalent of landing a guaranteed old age welfare.


America: Work, Faith, Charity and Freedom

Faith plays an instrumental element in American, with majority on Christianity and others included Catholic, Judaism, Mormon, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. All these establishments have strong supporting infrastructures in the Sates opening up opportunities for extensive and committed charity works. More than 50% of American involves in one forms of charity in either dedicated volunteering or generous donating. Peoples who embrace these two elements in their lifestyle are 40% happier to those who didn’t take part.

Contrary to popular misconception portray by the massive influential American entertainment, average American cherish very much on marriage and family, It’s not uncommon for parent going all out to best harness the value and opportunity presents to cater for the best for their children. Unlike Chinese parents, most didn’t expect any returns from their children to help out in their retirement financially; they simply wanted their offspring to become truly independent.

American are Increasingly center on faith, charity, jobs and freedom which forms the four major supporting pillar of strong sense of happiness to larger extent irrelevant to the actual income levels. They are long synonymous with their passion on their jobs, hard works and creativity which serves an important influential role to the worlds in cultures, finances and technologies. However, many were having difficulties in securing decent employment after the financial crisis and it had a spiral demoralizing impacts in the younger generations but many are sensible enough to have chosen to work as volunteers without compensations for gaining on experiences and exposures in anticipating for the gigantic job market tide to reverse course.

In summary, It’s a question of considerable importance to explore the very subject of happiness as it’s very broadly defined and carry a wide range of different perspectives in different country. A simple survey will assess your current state of happiness in regardless of your income, jobs, faith, place of residence, family status, health condition and so on. My personal favorite is question number #3: Some people are generally very happy. They enjoy life regardless of what is going on, getting the most out of everything. To what extent does this characterization describe you? So, one can actually be happy if you choose to be happy.


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