Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Happiness means different things around the world.

In Helen Russell’s new book “The Atlas of Happiness, the global secretes of how to be happyshe describes the way different countries see happiness and contentment.

It seems the Danes haven’t got the monopoly on this subject.

  • In China it’s about finding your meaning in life or “xingfu” – the state of being happy in the sense of living a meaningful life – not just being happy in the short term.
  • In Costa Rica it’s about staying positive and socialising. “pura vida” means the pure life and is about staying optimistic and happy in the face of adversity. It involves good food, good company – especially family, good weather, and the time to enjoy those things.
  • In Japan it’s about embracing the perfectly imperfect or “wabi-sabu” or simplicity and the beauty of age and wear. An appreciation of the things the way they are and revelling in imperfections in real life.
  • In Denmark, apart from the concept of “hygge“, they also have the idea of”arbejdsglaede” or happiness at work. Working long hours is a no-no (they work 33 hours a week on average) and regular breaks  for coffee and cinnamon buns de rigeur.
  • In India the idea is to focus on solutions not the problem. “jugaad” means frugal innovation, life hacks and a commitment to get things done all in order to get a positive outcome.
  • In Finland it’s “kalsarikannit” or getting “pants drunk”. Sitting in your well-insulated house in your underpants watching TV and getting drunk. I was told in Finland that they have a drink problem but this is elevating it to a different level and there is even an emoji for it.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the book!

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Norway tops World happiness league

Yes the Norwegians have toppled the Danes from the top position, but it was a close finish.

The UN’s World Happiness Report measures “subjective well-being” mainly by asking a simple question: “Imagine a ladder with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to number 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?

The average result is the country’s score. So Norway scored 7.54 whereas the Central African Republic scored only 2.69.

The report also looks at economic strength (GDP) social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption. Having a job was also important although white-collar jobs were more associated with happiness than blue-collar ones.

To see the full report go to http://worldhappiness.report/

The top 10 countries

  1. Norway
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. Finland
  6. Netherlands
  7. Canada
  8. New Zealand
  9. Australia
  10. Sweden

The USA came 14th and the UK 19th (Bristol was named the best place to live in Britain in 2017 by the way)

Western Europe dominated the list with African countries doing least well. The regular dominance of the Nordic countries (see previous reports) has encouraged others to adopt the Danish concept of Hygge – the concept of cosiness and relaxation.

Denmark has always done well in these kind of comparisons, for example for work-life balance, for how satisfied they are and for  being a good place to live

Note on the flag. The Norwegian flag is interesting because apart from using the red, white and blue  – symbolising liberty – and the Nordic cross (centred towards the hoist or flag pole), it incorporates the white cross of Denmark and the blue cross of Finland.


If you want to be happier – ditch Facebook!

Just a reminder

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stick_figure_liking_it_500_wht_9170Research from The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen in Denmark (one of the happiest countries in the world) has found that giving up your Facebook account boosts happiness and reduces anger and loneliness.

Life satisfaction rose significantly in the space of a week when participants were unable to read the updates of their friends. The institute was surprised by the changes in such a short time and wants to raise awareness on the influence of social media on feelings of fulfilment.

Facebook and other social media sites are “a constant flow of edited lives which distort our view of reality” it said in its report The Facebook Experiment.

They recruited over a thousand people in Denmark and asked half of them to avoid Facebook for a week. Participants were asked to rate their life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10 before and after the experiment.

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Being miserable might be in your genes

sitting_on_curb_holding_sign_12927Brits, Americans and the French are born to be miserable according to UK research.

People from Britain and America have apparently have a short-form version of a gene that regulates levels of serotonin, the chemical linked to happiness and French people have the shortest of all. No wonder we think of the French as Les Miserables!

The Danes however, who often top the league of happy countries, and the Netherlands have the lowest proportion of people with the short-form version. This means that Americans with ancestors from Denmark would also be happier.

Professor Andrew Oswald’s team at Warwick University looked at 131 different countries. Genetics turned out to be one of the most important factors in determining happiness.

Happiness league tables often take into account job satisfaction, health, wealth, education and political stability. Have a look at the OECD Happiness Index and decide for yourself.


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Copenhagen Airport, expensive or what?

I hadn’t enough Danish currency and they won”t take foreign coins, only notes , then give you Danish currency in return. So I thought £20 might cover 2 small beers and 2 coffees. The change you can see on the counter wouldn’t even buy a coffee at that bar!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

My colleague and I have just returned from Vilnius in Lithuania where we have been doing some work at Vilnius University. Our route home was via Copenhagen airport with a five and a half hour stop over for our connection to Manchester.

So, as one normally does with such a long wait we decided to find a bar and have a beer to while away the time. My friend ordered a glass of Kronenburg and I asked for Tuborg and we were quickly presented with two glasses.

Are these the two most expensive beers in Europe? Are these the two most expensive beers in Europe?

My friend offered to pay and the young lady serving us rang the amount into the till machine and up popped the amount of £15.00………..our jaws dropped as we looked at each other and said “well we knew that is was expensive in Copenhagen but we didn’t realise we were personally subsidising the Danish…

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