Trust me, I’m happy: Denmark tops list of happiest nations - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 11 September

In the popular television series The Killing, Denmark looks bleak and gloomy and the show’s star, Sarah Lund, clad in an itchy jumper, looks permanently depressed. However, a new report has crowned the Scandinavian country as the “happiest” nation in the world.


Trust me, I’m happy: Denmark tops list of happiest nations

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 11 September


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Irena Barker

In the popular television series The Killing, Denmark looks bleak and gloomy and the show’s star, Sarah Lund, clad in an itchy jumper, looks permanently depressed. However, a new report has crowned the Scandinavian country as the “happiest” nation in the world.

The World Happiness Report uses factors such as the country’s wealth, life expectancy, social support, levels of perceived corruption and “freedom to make life choices”.

Denmark beat off stiff competition from Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Austria, Iceland and Australia, who made up the rest of the top 10.

Britain came 22nd and was beaten by sunny nations such as Costa Rica, which came 12th and Panama, which was 15th.

The French came 25th in the table, despite their excellent cuisine and open spaces. Germany’s healthy manufacturing base was not enough to save it from the 26th spot.

Italy showed that pizza cannot cure all ills, with the Mediterranean country placed 45th.

African countries dominated the bottom of the table. Togo scored the worst, just below Benin, then the Central African Republic, Burundi and Rwanda.

War-torn Syria came 148th and politically unstable Egypt was 130th.

The rankings, published by Columbia University’s Earth Institute, raise interesting questions about how we can measure people’s happiness.

Researchers themselves point out that there is a big difference between people’s satisfaction with their lives in general, and emotional happiness, which can go up and down from day to day.

Last year, the Happy Planet Index, judged Costa Rica to be the happiest country. However, it measured happiness as “the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered”.

Meanwhile, the Danes themselves say their happiness could largely be down to a high degree of trust. The Danish Institut for Lykkeforskning – or “happiness institute” – found that three out of four Danes believe that they can trust a majority of people. Globally, just one out of four people believe they can trust others, it said.


Questions

1.) Make a list of things that make you happy.
2.) “Happiness” is an abstract noun. What does this mean?
3.) In your opinion, can a quality like happiness really be measured?
4.) What other qualities would it be difficult to accurately measure?


Related resources


Spread happiness through random kindness

  • A PowerPoint resource for an assembly based on the book Join Me by Danny Wallace.

Happiness – is it all a state of mind?

  • The power of a smile, having friends and family and giving Support.

Happiness and mental wellbeing

  • How enriching activities and setting smart goals can help us to feel happy.

Positive psychology in your classroom

  • Improve wellbeing through this webinar and supporting resource guide for teachers and students.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week


After a cold summer, Arctic sea ice levels are 60 per cent higher than they were at this time last year, according to a United Nations report.

A team of scientists has discovered the world’s largest volcano 2km beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Graphic images of diseased lungs and heart surgery on cigarette packets have little impact on teenagers who have already taken up smoking, a new study has found.

Sleeping can help boost the brain’s ability to repair itself, according to new research.



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