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|Subject: The Secret of Happiness||Date: 2/17/2008 11:03 PM|
|Author: intercst||Number: 11530 of 59856|
Accoring to one study; low expectations.
CBS) Happiness is that quirky, elusive emotion that the Declaration of Independence maintains we have every right to pursue. And we do pursue it: we are suckers for an endless stream of self-help books that promise a carefree existence for a mere $24.95; and television hucksters of every kind claim they have the key to Nirvana. So the happiness business, at least, is one big smiley face.
As for the rest of us, the main scientific survey of international happiness carried out by Leicester University in England ranks the U.S. a distant 23rd, well behind Canada and Costa Rica. But you'll be pleased to know we beat Iraq and Pakistan.
And the winner, once again as correspondent Morley Safer reports, is Denmark.
Over the past 30 years, in survey after survey, this nation of five and a half million people, the land that produced Hans Christian Andersen, the people who consume herring by the ton, consistently beat the rest of the world in the happiness stakes. It's hard to figure: the weather is only so-so, they are heavy drinkers and smokers, their neighbors, the Norwegians, are richer, and their other neighbors, the Swedes, are healthier.
That's a question that also intrigued Professor Kaare Christensen at the University of Southern Denmark.
"If you ask people on the street where they think the happiest country in the world, they'll say, you know, like, tropical islands and nice places, like Italy or Spain. Places with nice weather and good food. But in Europe, they're actually the most unhappy people," Dr. Christensen explains.
So Christensen and a team of researchers tried to discover just why Denmark finds itself on top of the happiness heap.
"We made fun of it by suggesting it could be because blondes have more fun. But then we could prove that the Swedes have more blondes than the Danes, and they were not as happy. So we tested different hypotheses," Christensen says.
After careful study, Christensen thinks he isolated the key to Danish anti-depression. "What we basically figured out that although the Danes were very happy with their life, when we looked at their expectations they were pretty modest," he says.
By having low expectations, one is rarely disappointed.
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