Looking for happiness? Move to Norway (and avoid the US)!
Ever hear that funny joke about Norway? No, me neither. That’s because Norway is kind of boring.
I say this with peace and love; I am, after all, writing from Toronto, a place the Guardian recently called “the most fascinatingly boring city in the world.” I also consider myself to be exceedingly boring. In fact, I had to stop writing a journal – I kept falling asleep at my desk.
The thing about being boring, though, is that it tends to lend itself to stability and reliability (the TTC, for example, can never be called boring). And, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report, feelings of stability, reliability, and trust count for a lot.
The report, which surveyed people in 156 countries, ranks Norway as the happiest country in the world, with Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland following close behind. “All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. Their averages are so close that small changes can re-order the rankings from year to year,” the report states.
Here is how it ranked the top ten happiest countries in 2017:
- New Zealand
Canada dropped a place from last year, swapping positions with the Netherlands. The report, however, cites our country as an example of “highly diverse societies,” which “have been able to achieve relatively high levels of social trust through programs aimed at promoting multiculturalism and inter-ethnic understanding.”
All of that is boring in a typically inoffensive Canadian way. It also stands in stark contrast to the wildly entertaining (and equally depressing) political discourse in the US right now. Fittingly, our neighbours to the south came in at number 14 and are seen to be in something of a downward slide.
“The United States offers a vivid portrait of a country that is looking for happiness in ‘all the wrong places’,” the report’s chapter on American happiness states, with no fear of being labeled fake news. “The country is mired in a rolling social crisis that is getting worse … yet the dominant political discourse is all about raising the rate of economic growth and the prescriptions for faster growth – mainly deregulation and tax cuts – are likely to exacerbate, not reduce, social tensions.”
If there’s good news there, it’s that this doesn’t seem to be lost on many Americans. You’ll recall that visits from the US to Workopolis increased by 237% during election results, and traffic from down south has been high since then.
Canada may be a “loft apartment over a really great party,” as Robin Williams once said, but evidently, a boring loft apartment looks pretty good when the party starts to die down – and it always does.