Why Danes are Happy, Part I

Now presenting, Part one of the multiple-part series, “Why Danes Are Happy”

So, the Danes are the happiest people in the world. Not sure if you missed that, but right now my host sisters are sitting next to each other, drawing on each other, and giggling. And they’re 17 and 18. So the Danes are doing something right. There are even official reports to back this up, it’s not from the giggling. Here’s the link to the World Happiness Report from 2013.

There are the obvious reasons (I haven’t read the report, as it is 152 pages. But go for it!). The Danes get major financial struggles paid for by the government. While us Americans are wondering what the heck we would do if we were in college and also needed to go the the ER (personal experience) and you’re just so in debt to the world. BUT NOT DANES! Free doctors, free college (they even get paid to go, $1000 per MONTH). But I’ve been observing some other trends too.

1. Their kids are well-behaved (and well-dressed):

I have NEVER seen a child in Denmark have a fit, yell at a parent, run from a parent, or hit their parents/siblings. I consider these behaviors to be pretty normal things you would see if you sat in the DC metro for an hour or two. In Denmark the kids hold their parent’s hand WHILE THEY RIDE THEIR BIKES and smile and hold hands with their parents and friends and it’s adorable. They also dress like tiny adults (H&M kids IS a thing) so they’re approx. 43978 times more fashionable than me. These kids aren’t (necessarily) Danish, but they are indicative of what I’m talking about.

From Lovelyish.com, I think

I tried to find kids who actually looked like kids I would see, versus obvious catalog models. I think these two fit the bill.

2. They love each other (a lot)

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this once (or twice) before, but it’s just still really hard for me to ignore when people are soo in love here, because it means they’re making out a) on the train platform b) in the train c) in a museum d) in the middle of the pedestrian street e) other. Or they’re holding hands. People young and old hold hands here, like a 30 year old woman and her 60 year old mom might hold hands on the street, or a 25 year old couple might hold hands while they ride their bikes next to each other (I witnessed this today and was baffled)

from ellengoesdutch.blogspot.com

3. They eat carbs

Do they ever. Those Danes aren’t shying away from a meal that is ONLY potatoes (I ate that this week), and I eat a fair share of wienerbrød (which is their word for Danishes, it means bread from Vienna!), but I don’t think I’m alone in my eating of excessive pastry. They have SO many pastry shops. I would say it’s comparable to how many coffee shops we have in the U.S., but I think it’s more. Maybe the same amount as coffee shops if you include Dunkin Donuts and then imagine Boston, pastry-filled.

from traveljapanblog

I’m fairly certain I’ve been to this pastry shop, but it’s VERY standard looking. So many pastries in the window 🙂

5. They work less

An average workweek in Denmark is 37 hours, and they get 6 weeks of paid vacation per year. So good. Really. This is really apparent when you go to get on a train between 3:30 and 6. Because that’s rush hour, not 5-7/8. Even at 5, things are lightening up.

6. They’re (all) law-abiding

This is most apparent in the fact that they WILL NOT jay walk. Like, there might be a crowd of 20 on each side of a crosswalk, waiting for the light to change, then 1 person might run across, but no one will follow. They’re patient and wait for the lights, because I guess there’s a big fine for jay-walking. Also, without jaywalking, cycling becomes a lot safer. Think about it.

Fun fact, a life sentence (as in, maximum sentence) in a Danish court is 12 YEARS. 12!

from speigel.de

7. Their feet don’t hurt.

       True life, everyone wears sneakers. This is not New York, where if you’re trying to fit in as a tourist you bring your highest heels (I mean, you don’t, but you think about it). If you’ve got a pair of black Nikes or white Converse (this applies to men or women, though I think women a little more) or even a pair of cheaper, less stylish running shoes, you’ll fit in just fine. Just make sure you pair it with not running clothes. No one runs here. Because of the cobblestones on literally every street and sidewalk, it makes much more sense than stilettos or flimsy flats. A good wedge boot is pretty common too.from Clothedmuch.com

This picture is pretty indicative, though no one is wearing black sneakers. The rest of the clothing looks very Danish too.


I could go on forever, but I thought I’d save it for another post.

Coming up next time:

8. They’re sexy and they know it

9. School is less stressful

10. They don’t binge drink (as much)

11. They travel


Also, as a part of this series: “Why Danes Aren’t Happy” featuring

1. The weather

2. Taxes

… there may be more but I’m not sure yet

We now return to regularly scheduled posting