Friday, November 7, 2014

Land of the free; home of the sorta happy

I’m about to realize a life-long dream – moving to the Happiest Place on Earth!

I’ve had it with all this marginal joy!  It’s just not good enough.  Why settle for 16th best?

That’s right.  The United States ranks 16th among the top 25 happiest countries in the world, according to a study conducted by Juliana Breines, Ph.D. of Brandeis University and online source of good news, usually:  The GreaterGood Science Center:  The Science of a MeaningfulLife.

Our blissful country didn’t even make the middle of the pack of republics populated with gleeful peeps.  Nope.  This land of opportunity was topped by the likes of Finland and Bulgaria.  The Czech Republic!

My favorite guy is a Czechoslovakian and I’m a nervous wreck.  I took him home to meet my folks.  But my folks said they don’t accept Czechs.

Sorry.  I know I’m distracted.  I had to take a moment to process the news of my melancholy.

I had no idea.  It’s mortifying.  All this time.  Tripping along as though I were content! 

And who’s Number One?  Croatia!  That’s right!  That bright destination spot of the Eastern Bloc countries:  Croatia! 

OK.  Croatia is really #2 on the list following Costa Rica.  But everyone knows Costa Rica must be happy, right?  It’s no fun to write about that!

So – Croatia.  Based on this survey, moving to Croatia would constitute a 14 point jump on the contentment countdown.  In one fell swoop!  And who doesn’t love a fell swoop?

But when I think of Croatia, all I can picture is a damp World War II nation of blues and grays; head scarves; bad posture; plows strapped to tired horses in fields of … OK.  I’m a typical US citizen who knows virtually nothing about anything outside our borders, save Cancun and Cabo.

Speaking of which, why didn’t Mexico rate higher on the happiness index?  Oh wait.  It did.  #11.  Incredible.

Anyway, I looked it up.  Croatia…here it is:  Formerly a single party Socialist union; declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991; became totally cool thereafter.  Sunny beaches and high Human Development Index. 

Who knew?  The pictures are beautiful.  And they have a travel bureau.  I’m going to live there.

Or Denmark.  Denmark tops another international happiness survey carried out annually by Leicester University inEngland.  The US ranks 23rd on that one, by the way.

What in the world could possibly make the home of Hamlet so much flippin’ fun?

CBS News talked to Professor Kaare Christensen at the University of SouthernDenmark, who found it odd too.  So he conducted a careful investigation and published his results in study called, “Why Danes are Smug.”

He says it's because they're so glum!  Wha??  They get happy when things turn out not quite so badly as they expected.

That’s it!  The key to Danish happiness:  Low expectations! 

Don’t aim for the moon, Frederik.  Be glad you get a filtered view on a cloudy night.  

Danish national anthem – sing along with me - Denmark, oh Denmark!  You could easily be worse!

I didn’t find a list where the US ranks first in anything except maybe list making.  We come in 6th when compared to more individualistic cultures.  Those happiness measures tap personal accomplishments and self-esteem as sources of happiness.  Ffft!  

We score well in the category of “Flourishing,” a measure focused on individual achievement.  Sample question: “I am competent and capable in the activities that are important to me.”  The Croats couldn’t care less.

Yep.  Costa Rica and Croatia beat us out in Subjective Happiness.  They report that they are extremely happy.  We report we’re happy, kinda. 

Get this – in spite of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram,LinkedIn and all that crapola, the Croats and the Costa Ricans score higher in Social Connections than we do.  What’s up with that?  I’m gonna unfriend them!

Low levels of Stress.  High Life Satisfaction.  Yadda yadda yadda.

So I guess they’re pretty laid back.  Denmark too.  I picture them all hanging out in their European cliques singing “Zippity Do Dah!”

It just makes me mad.  I mean where do they get off being happier than we are?  The very nerve!

I might just take my hard-earned American money and, and…  Maybe I’ll move to Disneyland.