Wondering if you’re happy? Ask yourself the following:
“Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”
That’s the main question social scientists asked those surveyed in the annual World Happiness Report, the results of which were released today.
So which country’s citizens answered most positively this year? Norway, whose people reported feeling the satisfaction equivalent of ladder step level 7.54 on average. That’s just .02 “steps” higher than those in the second happiest country, Denmark, whose denizens ranked their own levels at 7.52. Interestingly, two more countries in the top five—which include Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland—are also Nordic. Perhaps there really is something to the much-discussed Danish concept of hygge and its lesser-known but equally appealing Finnish cousin, kalsarikännit, after all. Or maybe it’s the cuisine.
As for our fair country, it rang in at 14th on this year’s list, one spot lower than in 2016. Not terrible, but worth noting—especially since the authors of the report included an entire chapter this year titled “Restoring American Happiness” that outlines why Americans might be feeling less happy even despite economic growth. “The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America’s multifaceted social crisis—rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust—rather than focusing exclusively or even mainly on economic growth,” the report recommends. “America’s crisis is, in short, a social crisis, not an economic crisis.”
Below, a look at the happiest and least happy countries in this year’s report:
8. New Zealand
2. South Sudan
10. Central African Republic