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The Pursuit of Happiness

Money, not that important. Why the Danes are considered the happiest people on earth. Full video available here




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Comments

Does pissing off Muslims make them happy too?

Does pissing off Muslims make them happy too?

I wouldn't presume to answer for them. We have some Danes who visit onegoodmove I'll let them answer that one. It is clear however that they value unfettered free speech more the many in this country do.

"Poverty consists, not in the decrease of one's possessions, but in the increase of one's greed." - Plato

On a side note, I'm assuming Eric is referring to the atrocious offense of scribbling a doodle of some ancient preacherman who is so embarrassed of his creation he refuses to allow his face to be associated with it? Is that so much worse than bombing 'em back into the stone age every few years? It's awfully difficult for a culture to modernize when their entie infrastructure is annihilated every decade or two.

I think part of the happiness problem in the US has been the overemphasis on consumerist culture that has been dominant for at least 3 generations now. But I suspect the tide is changing, all be it slowly.

In any case Epicurus of ancient Greece had a simple formula for happiness, that is not hostile to our consumerist tendencies:

  1. Earn enough for your basic needs - be self sufficient
  2. Have good friends you can depend upon
  3. Have an analyzed life - be reflective

If you have these three you probably will not be jumping joy all the time, but you will be content, have some peace of mind and will never be denied happiness.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3535764476733084568

Being Danish myself, that report seems a bit too polished and picture perfect.

Although we do have most of the things Safer mentions, not all are '100%'. For instance healthcare might be universal but it may also incur extra costs that makes it wise to buy private insurance. Studying, while basically government funded, cannot go on forever, as is implied.

Although we might be generally happy (which is probably true) we also have a high suicide rate, bad mortality rates regarding lifestyle diseases, and a shameful epidemic of xenophobia at the moment.

And, no, that xenophobia is not wholly responsible for the cartoon issue - I think muslim fundamentalists are more to blame on that one, actually.

I recommend Alain de Botton's book "The Consolations of Philosophy".

It is a good introduction to several philosophers.

Thank you Abhilash for the video link.

Let's hope Danish society is not destroyed by immigrant youths.

Danish police seize dozens in 8th night of riots http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-02-18-denmark-unrest_N.htm

The Danes could become just as right wing as Americans if this keeps up.

I think there's some truth to that thing about expectations. Most of the stress I experience living in London comes from getting sucked into the marketing of companies trying to sell me something and subsequently having a much higher expectation of what they can deliver in reality.

Rightly or wrongly my stereotypical view of an American is that a huge proportion of you want to be millionaires. But statistically you simply can't.

They talk about Danes getting six weeks vacation, with only a 37 hour work week. Nobody is stressing though that society can only function if people are productive. However, the focus here in America is success, which is equated for the most part with wealth accumulation. So, one's productive capacity is seen as their ability to accumulate wealth.

One thing that isn't mentioned, is that another reason why Americans don't want to improve their social safety nets and thus the overall quality of life for each citizen, is because (very generally speaking) they fear their government, and seem to have a difficult time keeping their government in line, despite that they were one of the first contemporary democracies. So, they don't want to give the government more money or control because they fear it will become a restrictive regime. They invoke Communism a lot, and tend to be too ignorant of geography to know there is a country called Denmark. ;)

The reasons for this are probably quite complicated, but a few things come to mind:

Not to put too big a spin on the cultural differences between the US and Denmark, but one possibility is that there could be too many irrational, ideological voters in the US. Whereas: "After Iceland, Denmark is the 2nd most acceptant country of the theory of biological evolution." Link

Another difference is that:

"Denmark elects a legislature on a national level. The Danish Parliament (Folketinget) has 179 members elected for four year terms. 135 of them are elected by proportional representation in 17 constituencies and 40 others are allotted in proportion to the total vote of the parties. The Faroe Islands and Greenland directly elect 2 members each.

Denmark has a multi-party system, with usually two strong parties and usually a third party that is electorally successful. Link

America's fucked up two-party semi-democracy could be part of the problem, hmm? Coupled of course with a population that has no interest in changing this.

Lastly, Denmark has a much smaller population than the USA, clocking in somewhere under 6 million people (roughly 50 times smaller than the US, and 5 times smaller than Canada!) It is possible that when they are responsible for a larger population, government structures become more unwieldy, and more liable to lose touch with the average citizen or become corrupt.

Holy run-on sentence batman!

Sorry!

ah, civilization! who woulda thunk it.

Er du heldig?

Ja , Jeg er heldig. "Cold Case" er på henne ved 21:00 i nat. Jeg altid se på "Cold Case".

If you watch the whole video, they themselves say the main reason why they're so happy is that they have low expectations for themselves. When things even go a little right, they're glad.

The clip that was selected makes a point about univeral coverage, but doesn't directly speak to the psychological issue at hand. Watch the whole video for more perspective.

It seems to me that Americans are more the victims of low expections than the Danes. How many people in the US expect to have free, universal health care, free, high quality day care for their children, paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers, a comfortable and secure retirement? Not to mention the ability to ride your bike in the street without the fear of being killed or maimed. Now that’s what I call high expectations!

Frenetic my friend, you seem utterly dissatisfied with the american system of government. I have something that could throw light into the situation for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hzMHLK93TA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un0wMkxq2ak

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPkUGYDAfGc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C_YBhY11yA

I fail to see how that is relevant, Abhilash.

AFAIK, the US Constitution doesn't forbid dissatisfaction, nor does it explicitly forbid Americans from choosing how they want to live.

Also, I'm Canadian, but I have many American friends who share (and have fostered) my opinion of the current system in the US.

Christiaan said, "Rightly or wrongly my stereotypical view of an American is that a huge proportion of you want to be millionaires. But statistically you simply can't."

Ah yes, you have stated here the disconnect with how so many Americans actually vote and reality...

There is a good reason why most Americans fear their government, namely, 40,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of a few feuding cabals of sociopaths.

The irony is, although the Danes pay 50% in taxes, this is not much more than a healthy upper-middle-class U.S. family when you factor in things like capital gains. It certainly seems like we should have more for our money.

Our military has slowly turned from our greatest asset into our greatest liability. We simply cannot afford the welfare state in conjunction with a warfare state.

That said, what happens the day after America disarms? We have earned quite a few enemies over the years. I wonder how long peace would last.

However, as I put off having kids for another few years because I simply can't afford it, I can't help but be envious of those evil Commie Danes.

Frenetic, hating America is easy. I am sure in a random sample of US citizens you can find more people criticizing America rather than otherwise.

I think part of the problem is Americans have too much freedom. You do not hear that many North Koreans or Saudis complain about how terrible their country is do you? Their life is absent of the joys that comes with freedom and hence they cannot make any judgment on the pros and cons of living in a free society. A totalitarian society can do that to you if they play their cards successfully.

So why is too much freedom a problem? It forces you to be responsible for yourself. To many people that is a burden too big to bear. It is much simpler to have someone be responsible for you, even at the expense of some of your freedoms.

In Canada you have universal health care, but you also have the limitations clause and non-withstanding clauses in the constitution that legitimizes curbs on your freedom. And yet time and again Canada comes out as a good place when it comes to ‘livability’. That is the irony of living in today's world.

Some people would write you off as a troll, Abhilash, but I'm going to ignore some of the grievous logical fallacies and give you the benefit of the doubt.

For starters, I don't "hate America".

Next, in terms of constitutional protections, how is America doing in terms of habeas corpus and protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, hmm?

Lastly, personal freedoms and social safety nets are not mutually exclusive. It could even be said they are complementary to some degree. You can disagree with this assertion, but in that case please provide some logical arguments for that position.

Well Frenetic, you did use the word 'fucked up' in your comment about America's problems, so why would I not think that you hate America.

And in terms of constitutional protections, I do agree. Abridging habeas corpus is a matter that should and does concern most Americans. I would go even further and say the present US president has done the most to undermine the constitutional protections in modern day. Having said that the 'happiness problem' in the United States is not unique to this presidential term. And most Americans have not been directly impacted by the abridgment to the constitution that has taken place. In other words things have not changed much from that angle. Americans still live the free life they used to, except when they have to catch a flight.

With the last statement, I have to disagree with you. Social safety nets do compromise on personal freedoms. It shifts us from a situation of independence to a situation of interdependence, which by itself is not a very bad thing. Both situations have its pros and cons and for now I will stress on the cons of both.

Independence can be harmful because it allows people to extremely selfish and act solely on the basis of short term needs, with no focus on long term goals. Such individuals can cause harm to the majority and containing their actions is the struggle for a very free society.

Interdependence can create a situation where the interests of the many takes precedence over the interests of the few. Now you may call it democracy. Well democracy in its perfect form is tyranny of the majority. Now you could claim that is a good thing, indeed you will until you find yourself in the minority.

An ideal system would be one where everybody's rights are protected at all times, not just the ones in the majority, not just the ones with financial or political power. That is what the founders of the US hoped to created and in the US it still remains the ideal state of affairs.

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