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Thread: World Happiness Report 2018

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Lying about one's feeling and trying to appear more joyful or positive than you really are is typical of North Americans (and Australians), not northern Europeans. If there is one thing you shouldn't do is assume that Amercians are like the Brits or North Europeans. In many respects, Europeans are closer culturally to one another than any country (even the UK) is with the USA. I even wrote a (very popular) article about it.

    In fact, British people are known for be whiners who love to complain about everything from the weather to the trains being late or government not doing a good job. German speakers are known for their blunt honesty more than any other group on Earth. Scandinavians also privilege blunt honesty. Overall Europeans are all quite blunt by international standards, compared to North and South Americans, Oceanians, East Asians, South Asians and Africans.

    Within Europe, I'd say that Spanish people are the least frank about their feelings. They are all like "We should definitely go to dinner some time!" or "Why don't we play tennis together next week", then you never hear back from them. It's not just based on my experience. In Brussels, which is a microcosm of all EU countries, it's well know that Spaniards are like that. If a German or a Swede tells you we should have dinner next week, you'd better take your schedule and look for a date and time, because they mean it.
    So much generalization of people and countries here. Are you Maciamo sure that you are not talking about McDonalds America or TV America. What is up with you Angela and feelings in some of your posts? Who are the Mediterranean people? I work and know a lot of Americans of "northern extraction", and I have some of that in me too. But I work and live with other "extractions" too, in this 325M country. I do not see any established patterns in lying about the feelings. Would you reconsider the use of word lying? I take offense to your statements, especially considering the roles you play in this forum.

    How is that for my American expression of feelings?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zvrk9 View Post
    So much generalization of people and countries here. Are you Maciamo sure that you are not talking about McDonalds America or TV America. What is up with you Angela and feelings in some of your posts? Who are the Mediterranean people? I work and know a lot of Americans of "northern extraction", and I have some of that in me too. But I work and live with other "extractions" too, in this 325M country. I do not see any established patterns in lying about the feelings. Would you reconsider the use of word lying? I take offense to your statements, especially considering the roles you play in this forum.

    How is that for my American expression of feelings?
    Ok, let me rephrase this. There is a cultural tendency for Americans, and New World people in general (Americas, Australia) to be more open, friendly and hypocritical toward strangers, compared to the more reserved and blunt Europeans. I am not the one saying it. That phenomenon was observed by many cultural psychologists. The likely reason is that societies in the New World were built on immigration and people are generally more mobile and very likely to meet people from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. In such a diverse environment it is helpful to be open and sociable to create new connections, as immigrants had to start a new life from nothing and fit with a wide range of different people. But it is also a good idea to keep your beliefs and convictions to yourself to avoid shocking or hurting other people's sensitivities, as it's harder to know what people think and feel in a multicultural environment than in a homogeneous rural community in Europe.

    I thought that was common knowledge to most people. That's why I didn't even mention it in my article about cultural differences between Europeans and Americans. That is one of the most defining characteristics of New World people as opposed to Europeans. But I have been studying cultural psychology since my teens (long before genetics), and I realise now that it may not be obvious to people who haven't travelled a lot or don't instinctively feel the urge to analyse the differences between cultural groups as I do.
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    It sounds much better Maciamo, but I do not agree with your comment about Americans being hypocritical towards strangers. I do not care which psychologist said that. My experience of living and working here as a stranger and as an American is very different from what you are stating.

    It goes without saying that not everyone is generous or sincere anywhere. Every society has its King Leopold III or that some other distinguished American leader (I am hypocritically smiling now).

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    I am sure you know the story of WWI in Belgium. Imperial Germany was starving your countrymen in the period of 1914 to 1918. There was ocean blockade by Kaiser’s army which took all the food from Belgian people. British tried to help but in the end, most of the help arrived from the other side of the ocean. Some Americans died at sea delivering 5.7M tons of food for all country for four years.

    “Belgium floor sucks” and “Food Ship” posters, used to raise the funds and pay for the food, are still on the display at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum in the USA. In Belgium, King Albert's silver medal was created to commemorate that American generosity toward strangers.

    Attachment 9957 Attachment 9958
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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    I think you're misunderstanding what that observation really means. It doesn't mean people are evil or fake, but that their social customs that dictate what is polite or not, kind or not, determine that they should sometimes lie about their feelings or hide their opinions. Being hypocritical toward strangers in this sense is not necessarily a problem, I actually pretty much support this "New World" way of dealing with other people very much, and there is no problem for me in not being recognized as a blunt person who's not afraid do disturb, shock or bother others. We just don't tell our minds as often and bluntly as other peoples, and that's fine, we're taught to know when, where and if we should tell everything we think. Brazilians do the same all the time, American peoples as a whole are, yes, whether we/you like it or not, very famed for this well-meaning habit of not telling everything we think and expressing everything we feel in order to avoid conflicts or to avoid unnecessary disagreements. Europeans instead aren't as a whole that afraid of expressing themselves and of being nice to others only if and when they really feel like (not because that's the polite thing to do), they weren't culturally taught to save face by adjusting their behavior to not annoy other people, instead they value their self-expression, self-esteem and indivituality above even things like social peace, good relations with neighbors and mates and their social face, i.e. their reputation as agreeable people to others. This is not a question of being wrong or right, good or evil. It's just a cultural difference related to the prevalence of positive OR negative face in a given culture. Americans and Brazilians value the feeling of being recognized by others as someone who doesn't cause trouble and isn't always looking for an argument, whereas Europeans value the feeling of having privacy and individual space strictly respected and knowing exactly what they and others think in a direct blunt way, regardless of whether that will be pleasant or not, conducive to good social interactions or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zvrk9 View Post
    It sounds much better Maciamo, but I do not agree with your comment about Americans being hypocritical towards strangers. I do not care which psychologist said that. My experience of living and working here as a stranger and as an American is very different from what you are stating.
    I agree with Ygorcs, who explained it very well. I think you are misunderstanding what I mean by hypocritical. I mean it in a neutral, factual, non-judgemental way (as most of the things I write).

    To give you a concrete example, I was raised in a culture in which telling a 'white lie' to spare people's feelings was considered almost as bad as perjury in court. That may be a bit extreme and I learned over time (and by living abroad, especially the UK, Australia and Japan) that white lies are quite acceptable to avoid pointless confrontations. That being said, French and German speakers are known for being very outspoken and blunt and for telling what they things to anyone (from complete strangers to loved ones) as honestly as they can. Some people are more tactful than others, and, depending on their personality, some will even refrain from saying anything if they think it will only lead to confrontation or bad feelings. But the majority of people do believe in the adage that 'honesty is the best policy'. In the USA when people behave like that the behaviour is considered quirky enough to be made into a popular TV series like The Big Bang Theory, with Sheldon's character (well, Sheldon often goes beyond what is socially acceptable even for French and German speakers because he can't recognise people's emotions and and completely lacks tact, but otherwise you get the idea).

    When I was an exchange student in Australia I apparently shocked people a lot with my outspokenness and couldn't understand why everyone was so oversensitive . Now I have spent so much time with native English and Japanese speakers that I am just as confortable with both types of communication styles - although ultimately it depends what language I am speaking (or thinking in). Very often behaviour is conditioned by past experiences, but the brain tends to separate those experiences by language, as if each language had its own personality and life experience.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Good explanations and comments from both of you. Thank you.
    Perhaps I was too focused on a few negative words like "lying" and "hypocritical".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I read The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country, and after analysing every aspect of Danish lifestyle, the author had to come to the conclusion that Danes are just naturally happier because of their DNA. The explanation was that Nordic winter is so bleak and lacking in sunlight that a natural selection took place over the centuries and millennia, and only those who had a cheery disposition survived (others died of depression, depression-induced illnesses or committed suicide). That is very likely to be true and explain perfectly why Nordic countries rank the highest in happiness. Finland isn't that rich (25th worldwide in GDP per capita, around the same level as Belgium, France and the UK), nor is life expectancy exceptional (20th worldwide). The country is relatively boring, all flat, with long winters, hardly any history, and no cuisine to speak of. Yet the Finns are ranked as the happiest people on Earth. Like for Denmark there is no better explanation than genetics. Scandinavian people spread their genes with the Germanic migrations, and genes for positive attitude and happiness were passed along with them. That explains why in the happiest Western countries in the list, the ranking follows very closely the percentage of Germanic/Nordic ancestry, with Finland and Scandinavia on top, followed by the Netherlands, countries with high British ancestry (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, besides the UK), Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, then Ireland, France and the Czech Republic. In fact studies about happiness were conducted within Germany and France to see differences between regions. Of course many factors influence regional happiness inside a country, like the sunshine and the local economic situation (East Germans cannot be expected to be as happy as West Germans). Yet, the study about Germany found that the happiest people were those of the northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, just under Denmark, followed by Hamburg - the two regions with the highest Germanic ancestry. The lowest were of course in East Germany. The happiness survey for French regions gave the Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Flanders-Artois, historically a part of Belgium until the late 17th century) as the happiest region of France. This is not a given considering that it is one of the bleakest regions (war fields of WWI), with little sunshine, and one of the worst regional GDP per capita in the country, and the highest unemployment rate anywhere in France. The economic situation is so bad that it has become the home base for Marine Le Pen's Nation Front Party. Yet the region is the happiest, and that surely has something to do with the fact that people have by far the highest Germanic ancestry within France (actually they can't be considered ethnically French, but annexed Low Countries people). Celtic and Roman genes did not undergo the same natural selection for natural optimism. French people were ranked as the most pessimistic in the world in a study published in late 2016, with 88% of the population thinking that their country was going in the wrong direction. Other Latins were also pessimistic, with Mexicans, Brazilians, Italians and Spaniards completing the bottom 5 in the 25 countries surveyed. Another survey by the World Economic Forum in 2015 confirmed the French as both the most pessimistic people (88%) and the least optimistic (3%). Within Europe the most optimistic were the four Nordic countries.The happiest Slavic-language country is unsurprisingly the Czech Republic, which has the highest Germanic ancestry, with levels of Germanic haplogroups similar to Austria and Switzerland.
    You make a good case for the theory, but I'm not buying it. Actually your hypothesis should be pretty easy to verify. Do people of germanic descent in Canada suffer less from depression than their african, middle eastern, asian or latin countrymen? I doubt it. And about the natural selection, there's nothing from keeping people from getting children before killing themselves from depression, so depressive people aren't naturally pruned from the genepool in northern countries. Actually, as hunter-gatherers people would already get their first children at puberty, and generally die before they were 30.Besides. Modern scandinavians have very little or no genetic ancestry from the SHG, who apparently were a mix of WHG and EHG. Have a look at "Ancient DNA Reveals Lack of Continuity between Neolithic Hunter-Gatherers and Contemporary Scandinavians" - Malmström et al, 2009. Modern scandinavians descend primarily from the trichterbecherkultur people (WHG/farmer mix) and the later yamnaya. So the genetic origin of the "germanic peoples" doesn't go as far back as the mesolithic. The last descendants of the SHG were probably the pitted ware culture who probably moved north and died out sometime ind the neolithic. Of cause, the yamnaya themselves were a mix of EHG, CHG and ANE. In reality, very fair skin, fair hair, as well as red hair, probably originate with the EHG, who also seems to be the people who lived the longest in the very far north. It seems most likely it is the EHG part of the yamnaya ancestry that gave the yamnaya fairer skin than any other people, at the time of their incursion into Europe. At least, that's what the studies I've read seem to indicate. My point is, if natural selection selects for a "happy-go-lucky" gene among people living at high altitudes, the EHG would have been the ones carrying that gene. And in that case, that gene would today be spread out across all of European population because of the yamnaya. The reason most often given for scandinavian countries scoring high in happiness, is that we are fairly small, rich, safe and egalitarian societies. We enjoy a very, very high degree of social security, while still being just as free as everybody else in the western world. The only downside being very high taxes, but with a good economy, we still have good salaries compared to the cost of living.We have extremely little corruption in our state and government, and we always had very high levels of trust in other people. Not very long ago, it wasn't uncommon for mothers to leave their children sleeping in their carriages outside the cafe's. That's changing now because of EU's open borders and the migrant crisis. Just last year some romanian gypsies stole an unattended babycarriage, that incidentally happened to contain a baby. The scandinavians are slowly loosing their innocence, as the reality of the real world moves in with the open borders and all.Anyway, I can use myself as an example of what it is about our societies that makes us scandinavians happy. I used to work as an electrician, but I always hated it. It was very physically taxing for me. I was always tired, and I always thought most people in the building business were morons. I just didn't like the people I would work with. So in the age of 37, I choose to take a new education as a lab technician. This was possible because in Denmark, education is for free everybody - no matter what - always. And you even get a fair amount of money from the state while you study, and you can borrow more at a low rate if it's not enough for you. Now, me changing career didn't benefit the society in anyway, actually, we really need electricians Denmark at the moment, so it's actually pretty bad I didn't want to work as one. But for me personally, it made my life much better, and it made me much more happy, because I now spend my days doing something I like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizla View Post
    You make a good case for the theory, but I'm not buying it. Actually your hypothesis should be pretty easy to verify. Do people of germanic descent in Canada suffer less from depression than their african, middle eastern, asian or latin countrymen? I doubt it.
    Thanks for your feedback. Have you checked my other posts about happiness levels in the USA? Minnesota, which has the highest percentage of Scandinavian ancestry, is also ranked as the happiest. I don't have data for Canada, but the correlation between increased happiness and Scandinavian ancestry holds for most US states, so there is no reason it should be different in Canada. I don't know of any study comparing ethnic groups in the US or Canada for depression.


    Modern scandinavians have very little or no genetic ancestry from the SHG, who apparently were a mix of WHG and EHG. Have a look at "Ancient DNA Reveals Lack of Continuity between Neolithic Hunter-Gatherers and Contemporary Scandinavians" - Malmström et al, 2009. Modern scandinavians descend primarily from the trichterbecherkultur people (WHG/farmer mix) and the later yamnaya. So the genetic origin of the "germanic peoples" doesn't go as far back as the mesolithic. The last descendants of the SHG were probably the pitted ware culture who probably moved north and died out sometime ind the neolithic. Of cause, the yamnaya themselves were a mix of EHG, CHG and ANE. In reality, very fair skin, fair hair, as well as red hair, probably originate with the EHG, who also seems to be the people who lived the longest in the very far north. It seems most likely it is the EHG part of the yamnaya ancestry that gave the yamnaya fairer skin than any other people, at the time of their incursion into Europe. At least, that's what the studies I've read seem to indicate. My point is, if natural selection selects for a "happy-go-lucky" gene among people living at high altitudes, the EHG would have been the ones carrying that gene. And in that case, that gene would today be spread out across all of European population because of the yamnaya.
    Modern Scandinavians nevertheless inherited the most SHG ancestry from any population. The way natural selection works is that beneficial genes are quickly passed on when two populations merge. Look at the gene for lactase persistence. Almost nobody had it in Scandinavia 5000 years ago, then Steppe people came in the Copper and Bronze Age, with maybe 10% of the people carrying that mutation. It got positively selected and nowadays 95% of Scandinavians have it. Same for red hair in Britain, Ireland and Norway. The mutation was found in a small percentage of R1b people who came during the Bell Beaker period 4200 years ago, and its frequency increased over time in parts of Europe that had the least sunlight all year round (i.e. the cloudiest). In Britain there is an west-east gradient in red that closely follows the number of hours of sunlight per year. Ditto in Scandinavia. Rainy Norway has much more red hair than sunny Sweden.

    The reason most often given for scandinavian countries scoring high in happiness, is that we are fairly small, rich, safe and egalitarian societies. We enjoy a very, very high degree of social security, while still being just as free as everybody else in the western world. The only downside being very high taxes, but with a good economy, we still have good salaries compared to the cost of living.We have extremely little corruption in our state and government, and we always had very high levels of trust in other people.
    The author of the book analysed that, but the argument doesn't hold. The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are generally rich, safe and egalitarian societies with good social security, but never score as high for happiness. Japan is safer than Scandinavia, and is indeed surely the safest country in the world. It is very peaceful and egalitarian, has a good economy with hardly any employment, free education and a very good and cheap healthcare. The Japanese have the world's highest life expectancy, a good climate, excellent food, etc. Yet they rank very low for happiness.

    The Japanese have trust levels that are so high that it makes them easy targets for pickpockets and scammers when they travel abroad. If you leave a wallet full of banknotes (say worth 5000€) on a restaurant table or in the street, you can be 99% sure that someone will bring it back to you or to the nearest police station (who will contact you) and you will get it back without a penny (or a yen) missing. It's not just theft that is almost unheard of. Japan has a homicide rate 3x lower than Denmark, and only beaten by rich city-states like Singapore or Monaco. So neither trust not safety impact happiness levels.

    Scandinavian countries have the lowest corruption in the world, but I doubt that that factor alone justifies a much higher happiness. Anyway, as I explained above, even Americans of Scandinavian descent are happier, so it's clearly not related to the country or system, but to ancestry.

    Then Scandinavia is not as rosy as you think. This article explains that, for example the Danes have:

    - The Danes also have the highest level of private debt in the world.
    - Denmark's schools lag behind even the UK's.
    - According to the World Cancer Research Fund, the Danes have the highest cancer rates on the planet.
    - According to a report in Politiken, the proportion of people below the poverty line has doubled over the last decade. In fact, I checked the statistics and income inequality and Denmark doesn't ranks so well anymore. According to the World Bank, Denmark is the 18th most egalitarian country, behind countries like Ukraine, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, other Nordic countries and Belgium. Comparing the gap between the 10% richest and 10% poorest, Japan ranks first, while Denmark is 28th, behind the aforementioned but also Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, etc.

    Anyway, I can use myself as an example of what it is about our societies that makes us scandinavians happy. I used to work as an electrician, but I always hated it. It was very physically taxing for me. I was always tired, and I always thought most people in the building business were morons. I just didn't like the people I would work with. So in the age of 37, I choose to take a new education as a lab technician. This was possible because in Denmark, education is for free everybody - no matter what - always. And you even get a fair amount of money from the state while you study, and you can borrow more at a low rate if it's not enough for you. Now, me changing career didn't benefit the society in anyway, actually, we really need electricians Denmark at the moment, so it's actually pretty bad I didn't want to work as one. But for me personally, it made my life much better, and it made me much more happy, because I now spend my days doing something I like.
    Education is free (or very, very cheap) in most of Europe. Only the UK and Ireland have slightly more expensive universities, but they also happen to be the best and still cost peanuts compared to the USA.

    As for social security, the Scandinavian system isn't nearly as generous as the Belgian or French one. You can't live on the dole, getting 1000 to 2000€ per month indefinitely for years (say 10 years) in Scandinavia, but it's possible and quite common in Belgium and France (hence the higher number of immigrants).

    France is almost as egalitarian as Scandinavia and is better in many respects relating to quality of life (climate, historical heritage, cuisine, life expectancy, number of working hours per week, holidays, social security...). Yet French people, just like the Japanese, are less happy than they should, and indeed among the most pessimistic people in the world. That's I think the best proof that the best system can't make people happy if they are genetically not predisposed for happiness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Thanks for your feedback. Have you checked my other posts about happiness levels in the USA? Minnesota, which has the highest percentage of Scandinavian ancestry, is also ranked as the happiest. I don't have data for Canada, but the correlation between increased happiness and Scandinavian ancestry holds for most US states, so there is no reason it should be different in Canada. I don't know of any study comparing ethnic groups in the US or Canada for depression.
    Thank you too, it's an interesting topic :)

    I’m sure you know that correlation does not mean causation. Comparing “happiness” and rates of depression between various ethnic groups in Canada or Alaska would be interesting, because it’s on the same longitude as Scandinavia. So it will have the same kind of dark winters and long summer days. Alternately, we would just have to look how happiness varies among different ethnic groups in Scandinavia. of cause only between people who grew up here. I once heard winter in Denmark described as “Hell” by newly arrived southeast Asians.

    It could be an interesting study.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Modern Scandinavians nevertheless inherited the most SHG ancestry from any population.

    No, I don't believe that is correct. People in the Baltics have way more SHG ancestry than scandinavians. They stayed hunter-gatherers until the Corded Ware people arrived. Just as scandinavians are a mix of TRB and yamnaya, baltic people are a mix of SHG and yamnaya. If I recall the paper correctly, that I mentioned in my former post, the authors found no genetic connection what so ever between SHG and modern Scandinavians. The TRB farmers almost completely replaced the hunter-gatherers, just as in many other parts of Europe. Okay, maybe just a little admixture took place, but nothing like in the baltic countries apparently.

    The SHG themselves were a mix of EHG and WHG who met up in Scandinavia after the ice retreated.

    Besides the paper I mention in my former post, it’s also from these papers I base my understanding: "Genomic Diversity and Admixture Differs for Stone-Age Scandinavian Foragers and Farmers", "The Genetic History of Northern Europe", “Extensive farming in Estonia started through a sex-biased migration from the Steppe” but particularly “The genetic prehistory of the Baltic Sea region” from Mitnik et al 2018. it's all papers I read this winter, so my memory might be lacking though.

    I understand you point about the red hair cline and all that, I’m just not sure it translates to happiness. Red hair is different. It gives you light skin, so people with that mutation will easier get skin cancer and die, if they live in the south. There’s nothing preventing someone with the happy-go-lucky gene to travel south and stay there. Always being more positive and optimistic will always be an advantage, no matter where you live.

    About lactase persistence. To my knowledge, why that mutation spread so fast and became fixated in the European population in the bronze age is unknown. It's a mystery that hasn’t been solved yet. Didn’t the farmers have the same propensity to develop lactase persistence? I think so, if I recall correctly. It would just fit so perfectly if it was the yamnaya who brought that gene here, that people can't stand it's not that simple.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    The author of the book analysed that, but the argument doesn't hold. The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are generally rich, safe and egalitarian societies with good social security, but never score as high for happiness.
    Yes, but except for Luxembourg, all these countries have much larger populations than the scandinavian ones, and are all much less homogenous, except Japan, but they have other issues. And of cause, any of these factors alone doesn’t make anyone happy - it’s much more complex.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Japan is safer than Scandinavia, and is indeed surely the safest country in the world. It is very peaceful and egalitarian, has a good economy with hardly any employment, free education and a very good and cheap healthcare. The Japanese have the world's highest life expectancy, a good climate, excellent food, etc. Yet they rank very low for happiness.
    The Japanese have trust levels that are so high that it makes them easy targets for pickpockets and scammers when they travel abroad. If you leave a wallet full of banknotes (say worth 5000€) on a restaurant table or in the street, you can be 99% sure that someone will bring it back to you or to the nearest police station (who will contact you) and you will get it back without a penny (or a yen) missing. It's not just theft that is almost unheard of. Japan has a homicide rate 3x lower than Denmark, and only beaten by rich city-states like Singapore or Monaco. So neither trust not safety impact happiness levels.
    Yes, this is true. But it’s not just one factors that determines the happiness of people. The Japanese might have much higher trust levels than the danes, but in their case, I believe it is their culture that makes them unhappy - simply put. Harakiri and all. I’ve been there myself twice.

    Trust and feelings of safety does impact happiness levels a lot, but it’s obviously not the only factor at play.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Scandinavian countries have the lowest corruption in the world, but I doubt that that factor alone justifies a much higher happiness. Anyway, as I explained above, even Americans of Scandinavian descent are happier, so it's clearly not related to the country or system, but to ancestry.

    I think you’re wrong about that. I think exactly this, is one of the major factors at play. It works together with the trust and safety levels we already discussed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Then Scandinavia is not as rosy as you think. This article explains that, for example the Danes have:

    - The Danes also have the highest level of private debt in the world.
    - Denmark's schools lag behind even the UK's.
    - According to the World Cancer Research Fund, the Danes have the highest cancer rates on the planet.
    - According to a report in Politiken, the proportion of people below the poverty line has doubled over the last decade. In fact, I checked the statistics and income inequality and Denmark doesn't ranks so well anymore. According to the World Bank, Denmark is the 18th most egalitarian country, behind countries like Ukraine, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, other Nordic countries and Belgium. Comparing the gap between the 10% richest and 10% poorest, Japan ranks first, while Denmark is 28th, behind the aforementioned but also Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, etc.
    Yes, this is all true. It used to be a lot better here, and in someways we are blind to the fact that the society we used to have is slowly deteriorating. I just think the danes haven’t realized yet, and that said, we aren’t number one the happiness list. I believe that in 10 or 20 years we will be just as unhappy as the latins - the EU is seeing to that.

    It might very well be an illusory happiness you find here. Most danes think our health system is fabulous - it’s not. It’s much worse than what you find in many other western countries, we just aven’t realized yet. Same with our social security system - it used to be a lot better, but we are still proud of it, when we tell foreigners about it.

    About cancer, Danish culture is very much against puritanism. We want to enjoy our smokes and our glass of redwine, and nobody can tell us differently. We are completely opposite the swedes in that sense. More cancer in this context actually means for a more happy culture. The people getting cancer aren’t happy of cause, that’s obvious.

    Actually I do believe that Danish culture is a bit more happy-go-lucky than all of our neighbours. More frivolous and carefree. The swedes are very P.C and stuck up. The finns are very somber and strange. And the germans are a difficult people, with a lot of issues about everything. I went to Burning man, and everyone were just so amazing and positive - except the german of cause. He had to be snappy and have issues with people when he was drunk. Norwegians and danes are most alike of northern people, and the dutch too. They come off as very similar to the danes to me.

    Back on topic, it’s just not one or two factors playing into how “happy” a people is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Education is free (or very, very cheap) in most of Europe. Only the UK and Ireland have slightly more expensive universities, but they also happen to be the best and still cost peanuts compared to the USA.
    Yes, but no other country in the word has the S.U system. If you go to Denmark, you will find we are over-educated. It’s not uncommon for people to have several unrelated “educations”. But of cause our system used to be a lot more generous, and like everything else about our society it’s deteriorating. Denmark is slowly becoming a minor province in the EU - and as you know, we’re not the happiest country in the world any more. Google your way to the english version of danish webpage on S.U. and you will see. Unfortunately I can't post links.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    As for social security, the Scandinavian system isn't nearly as generous as the Belgian or French one. You can't live on the dole, getting 1000 to 2000€ per month indefinitely for years (say 10 years) in Scandinavia, but it's possible and quite common in Belgium and France (hence the higher number of immigrants).
    Yes, of cause you can. But it’s getting limited more and more, in the sense that the state just won’t leave you alone. They will try to help you with whatever issues it is that keeps you from getting a job. Being left alone on the dole to rot, will rarely make anybody happy anyway. That's not social security.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    France is almost as egalitarian as Scandinavia and is better in many respects relating to quality of life (climate, historical heritage, cuisine, life expectancy, number of working hours per week, holidays, social security...). Yet French people, just like the Japanese, are less happy than they should, and indeed among the most pessimistic people in the world. That's I think the best proof that the best system can't make people happy if they are genetically not predisposed for happiness.
    But quality of life isn’t everything. It’s like saying people should automatically be happy if they are rich. If you don’t feel you or your country has any good future, then you can eat all the baguette's that you want, and still be unhappy (we have French cuisine too in Denmark, you know ;) )

    I'm not sure it’s going that great in France to be honest. Not that I know a lot about it, but it’s the impression I got from the last election. Front National and all, a lot of people voted for Macron even though they don't like him, and eventhough he's just going to be more of what they've already had before.

    I know that retirement age for instance, is much lower in France than in Denmark, were it is being raised all the time. But is that a good thing? Denmark is being run like a well-oiled company, while many southern European countries seems to be run in a completely dysfunctional manner. We are bolstering ourselves economically for the future. Countries like France should be doing the same, but every time the politicians try to do it, like changing the retirement age, people go on strike, not realising that it would probably actually make them happier, to know they would be passing on a brighter future for their kids, than going on an early retirement.

    Anyway, I’m actually not totally dismissive of the happy-go-lucky gene hypothesis, but I want more than just correlation. I can’t say exactly what it is, that makes us Scandinavians appear more happy than southern Europeans. But I think it is easier to keep a small, homogenous and relatively isolated population happy. Low corruption, high levels of trust and feelings of safety, as well as all the other things we talked about, like democracy, egalitarity, freedom, social security etc. etc. that is the recipe. But it all needs to be topped off with the right kind of culture/attitude. Otherwise it's not enough. It's many things coming into play at the same time. And all that said, I'm sure scandinavia will plummet down in the happiness index in future - thanks to the EU.
    Last edited by Rizla; 15-04-18 at 13:25.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizla View Post
    I’m sure you know that correlation does not mean causation. Comparing “happiness” and rates of depression between various ethnic groups in Canada or Alaska would be interesting, because it’s on the same longitude as Scandinavia. So it will have the same kind of dark winters and long summer days. Alternately, we would just have to look how happiness varies among different ethnic groups in Scandinavia. of cause only between people who grew up here. I once heard winter in Denmark described as “Hell” by newly arrived southeast Asians.
    Alaska is about at the same latitude as Scandinavia, but over 90% of Canadians live in much more southerly latitudes. You can easily check it on Google Maps, but to give you an idea, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto are at the same latitude as the south of France, northern Italy or Croatia. The most northern major Canadian city is Edmonton, which is at the latitude of the Netherlands.

    No, I don't believe that is correct. People in the Baltics have way more SHG ancestry than scandinavians. They stayed hunter-gatherers until the Corded Ware people arrived. Just as scandinavians are a mix of TRB and yamnaya, baltic people are a mix of SHG and yamnaya. If I recall the paper correctly, that I mentioned in my former post, the authors found no genetic connection what so ever between SHG and modern Scandinavians. The TRB farmers almost completely replaced the hunter-gatherers, just as in many other parts of Europe. Okay, maybe just a little admixture took place, but nothing like in the baltic countries apparently.
    From what I know, Baltic people have considerably more WHG than Scandinavians. The Narva culture was essentially WHG, with Y-DNA I2a and mtDNA U5b. Even the Finns and Saami inherited that mtDNA U5b and V (similar to Iberians) from WHG, while Scandinavian have higher SHG and EHG.

    I understand you point about the red hair cline and all that, I’m just not sure it translates to happiness.
    It doesn't. I was just explaining that genes are under constant evolutionary pressure and their frequency can quickly vary due to environmental or lifestyle changes. My point was that if Scandinavians could increase their frequency of lactase persistence from 0% to 95% in 4000 years, a similar evolutionary pressure could easily have increased the frequency of a gene conferring resilience to depression or pessimism (not the same things) in the last 12,000 years. Whatever new wave of immigrants to Scandinavia would eventually have picked it up when the populations blended with one another. The last major arrival were the Indo-Europeans in the Bronze Age, and the previous Neolithic and Mesolithic inhabitants with whom they mixed did get the lactase persistence gene.

    Yes, but except for Luxembourg, all these countries have much larger populations than the scandinavian ones, and are all much less homogenous, except Japan, but they have other issues. And of cause, any of these factors alone doesn’t make anyone happy - it’s much more complex.
    I see that geography isn't your strong suit. Denmark, Finland and Norway have about 5.5 millions inhabitants each. Sweden has 9 millions. In comparison, Ireland has 4 million, New Zealand 4.6 million, Austria has 8.5 million. The Netherlands (16 million) and Australia (24 million) are a bit more population, but not that much (less than twice and 3 times that of Sweden). On the other hand, Luxembourg has only 0.5 million inhabitants, 10 times less than Denmark. Ireland is certainly as homogeneous as Denmark, if not more. They are almost purely Celtic (R1b-L21) and have very few immigrants compared to Scandinavia.

    Yes, this is true. But it’s not just one factors that determines the happiness of people. The Japanese might have much higher trust levels than the danes, but in their case, I believe it is their culture that makes them unhappy - simply put. Harakiri and all. I’ve been there myself twice.
    Harakiri and all? I see that you have a profound understanding of modern Japanese culture. What part of Japanese culture do you think makes them unhappy? The anime and video game culture or the obsession with cute things and good food? Or their liberated sex life maybe (wait, that's the same in Denmark).

    Trust and feelings of safety does impact happiness levels a lot, but it’s obviously not the only factor at play.
    ...
    I think you’re wrong about that. I think exactly this, is one of the major factors at play. It works together with the trust and safety levels we already discussed.
    It seems to have no effect at all on Japanese happiness. For all measurable data in the study on happiness (GDP, life expectancy, etc.) Japan scored very high. They have one of the safest and most trusting society on Earth. And yet they are unhappy. So what makes Scandinavians happy and the Japanese unhappy? I can't see anything else than genetic differences. The proof is that all East Asians are unhappy, and that Scandinavian Americans are just as happy as Scandinavians in Scandinavia.


    Yes, this is all true. It used to be a lot better here, and in someways we are blind to the fact that the society we used to have is slowly deteriorating. I just think the danes haven’t realized yet, and that said, we aren’t number one the happiness list. I believe that in 10 or 20 years we will be just as unhappy as the latins - the EU is seeing to that.
    We will see, but if I am right about genetics being the cause of happiness, chances are low that Scandinavians will be as unhappy as southern Europeans. On the other hand Scandinavian countries are welcoming far too many poor Muslim immigrants/refugees, so it could destroy their present culture and lifestyle and make them unhappy. The EU isn't to blame for this. Just look at the projections. If Muslim immigration goes unrestrained, 30% of the population of Sweden will be Muslim in 2050 and 16% in Denmark.


    It might very well be an illusory happiness you find here. Most danes think our health system is fabulous - it’s not. It’s much worse than what you find in many other western countries, we just aven’t realized yet. Same with our social security system - it used to be a lot better, but we are still proud of it, when we tell foreigners about it.
    A lot of happiness or unhappiness is illusory. That was my point with the French and all their negativity and pessimism. They live in one of the best societies and one of the most liveable countries on Earth and nevertheless are the world champions of complaining and striking.

    Actually I do believe that Danish culture is a bit more happy-go-lucky than all of our neighbours. More frivolous and carefree. The swedes are very P.C and stuck up. The finns are very somber and strange. And the germans are a difficult people, with a lot of issues about everything. I went to Burning man, and everyone were just so amazing and positive - except the german of cause. He had to be snappy and have issues with people when he was drunk. Norwegians and danes are most alike of northern people, and the dutch too. They come off as very similar to the danes to me.
    Those are the agreed upon stereotypes. I have had the same impression.


    Yes, but no other country in the word has the S.U system. If you go to Denmark, you will find we are over-educated. It’s not uncommon for people to have several unrelated “educations”. But of cause our system used to be a lot more generous, and like everything else about our society it’s deteriorating. Denmark is slowly becoming a minor province in the EU - and as you know, we’re not the happiest country in the world any more. Google your way to the english version of danish webpage on S.U. and you will see. Unfortunately I can't post links.
    I looked it up and the S.U system is just Denmark's system of grants for poorer students. Most developed countries have similar programs, although students do not always get paid to attend university (usually the grant just cover all the expenses). Be that as it may, you are mistaken to think that the Danes are over-educated. Looking at the percentage of the population that completed tertiary education, Denmark ranks only 19th (36%) among developed countries, behind all other Nordic countries, but also behind Estonia, Lithuania and Russia, and behind Japan, South Korea, Israel, the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium. I know that many Danes are proud of their country, but the danger of being too proud is that you get a too rosy view of things and loose touch with reality. Denmark has about the same percentage of university graduates as Spain and is in the bottom half of the EU.


    Being left alone on the dole to rot, will rarely make anybody happy anyway. That's not social security.
    I agree that being on the dole rarely make somebody happy. But why are you saying that the dole isn't social security? What is social security for you then?


    But quality of life isn’t everything. It’s like saying people should automatically be happy if they are rich. If you don’t feel you or your country has any good future, then you can eat all the baguette's that you want, and still be unhappy (we have French cuisine too in Denmark, you know ;) )
    Wealth is only one facet of quality of life. That's why I mentioned the long holidays, early retirement, good food, beautiful country, high life expectancy... If none of these matter to you, then what do you think make people happy? Whatever aspect of life we look at, Danes (or Scandinavians in general) are superseded by other countries. Yet Scandinavians are the happiest. What is the big secret then? I am telling you the genes for happiness are looking like a good answer now.

    I'm not sure it’s going that great in France to be honest. Not that I know a lot about it, but it’s the impression I got from the last election. Front National and all, a lot of people voted for Macron even though they don't like him, and eventhough he's just going to be more of what they've already had before.
    Macron is a great president, perhaps the best France has ever had. Many people love him. But as it is France, there will always be people who are dissatisfied and unhappy about anything and everything. The main reason people voted for the National Front was because of Muslim immigrants and refugees. The problem was exacerbated in most of Europe with the Syrian crisis. But if you think that Scandinavia is being spared (check again the link above), once again you are looking at the world through tinted glasses.


    I know that retirement age for instance, is much lower in France than in Denmark, were it is being raised all the time. But is that a good thing? Denmark is being run like a well-oiled company, while many southern European countries seems to be run in a completely dysfunctional manner. We are bolstering ourselves economically for the future. Countries like France should be doing the same, but every time the politicians try to do it, like changing the retirement age, people go on strike, not realising that it would probably actually make them happier, to know they would be passing on a brighter future for their kids, than going on an early retirement.
    Actually Macron is going to pass his reforms regardless of rail workers striking for months. It's far more challenging to be a head of state in France than in Denmark, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    First, let me say that I don’t think the idea of a genetic cause is impossible. Of cause it’s possible. I just find in more plausible that culture as well external factors, which there a lot of, come together to make Scandinavian countries come out number in the happiness index. Someone has to be number one, and comparing countries across cultures isn’t always completely meaningful in my opinion. I also think you underestimate the importance, of what low levels of corruption in a society, says about that society. How it raises a lot of parameters - like feelings of safety, trust etc

    If you haven’t already, you should read “THE HAPPY DANES Exploring the reasons behind the high levels of happiness in Denmark”, by something with the stupid name of The Happiness Research Institute. It’s a pdf and you can find it on their website. I’d post the link if I could. In spite of the silly name, and that it looks like a commercial for Denmark, it’s a serious publication with lots of references for its claims. The guy who started the institute also wrote a book about danish culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Alaska is about at the same latitude as Scandinavia, but over 90% of Canadians live in much more southerly latitudes. You can easily check it on Google Maps, but to give you an idea, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto are at the same latitude as the south of France, northern Italy or Croatia. The most northern major Canadian city is Edmonton, which is at the latitude of the Netherlands.
    Okay, then Canada doesn’t work. What about Alaska? Anyway, It doesn’t change my point, which was that the hypothesis should be pretty easy to test, if someone put their mind to it. You would just need to make a study of happiness, were you compare people who have the same background as well as culture, and all born and bred in Scandinavia, but with a different genetic background. Unfortunately, I don’t believe adoptee's would work, because I actually think that people were adopted as children, generally are more unhappy. And I recall something about them having more psychic problems than the general populace too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    From what I know, Baltic people have considerably more WHG than Scandinavians. The Narva culture was essentially WHG, with Y-DNA I2a and mtDNA U5b. Even the Finns and Saami inherited that mtDNA U5b and V (similar to Iberians) from WHG, while Scandinavian have higher SHG and EHG.
    I laughed at myself afterwards, because obviously baltic HG’s could never be Scandinavian HG’s, they would be Baltic of cause Anyway, the Baltic HG’s were apparently mostly, of if not fully, WHG stock. But it doesn’t change the point I was making. There are people in Europe, like baltic people or people in northern Russia who have a way higher amount of their DNA inherited from HG’s, than Scandinavians do, and all those HG’s lived for just as long, at just as northerly altitudes. Some of these people of cause, have admixture from people from the uralics too. But they too, both the western and eastern uralic people also have ancestors who lived at these altitudes for just as long. And don’t people in the north of Scotland, for instance, also have the same amount of HG’s ancestry from HG’s that lived at those latitudes for just as long as the Scandinavian ones? Except they would originally have been of pure WHG stock, instead of mix of EHG and WHG.

    As I said in my previous post, the SHG’s were a mix of WHG and EHG meeting up in Scandinavia. Two different studies I already mentioned have found this.
    The EHG who’s genome is based on some Mesolithic skeletons from Karelia. These EHG’s would be much more likely candidates for such a optimism-gene, imo. Since they actually lived further north for a longer time - or so I personally believe. I believe very pale skin, red hair and blond hair originated with these people, who passed it on to the yamnaya. It’s just how it seem to me, at the moment with what we know so far. The SHG had I2 and and U5 haplogroups too, by the way, which isn’t surprising going by their autosomal DNA.

    Of cause, all this doesn’t disprove the genetic hypothesis, not at all. It could be a fluke, a founder effect. But it makes it less likely to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It doesn't. I was just explaining that genes are under constant evolutionary pressure and their frequency can quickly vary due to environmental or lifestyle changes. My point was that if Scandinavians could increase their frequency of lactase persistence from 0% to 95% in 4000 years, a similar evolutionary pressure could easily have increased the frequency of a gene conferring resilience to depression or pessimism (not the same things) in the last 12,000 years. Whatever new wave of immigrants to Scandinavia would eventually have picked it up when the populations blended with one another. The last major arrival were the Indo-Europeans in the Bronze Age, and the previous Neolithic and Mesolithic inhabitants with whom they mixed did get the lactase persistence gene.
    But you still haven’t explained why you think people who are either very pessimistic or have a tendency to get depressed wouldn’t get children and pass on their genes? I can see how very optimistic people would get more children, and also have more success in general, but I fail to see why that genetic trait would stay confined to the north, since it would be an advantage no matter where you lived, be it cold or warm in the winter.
    Also I can’t really see it playing that big a role among hunter-gatherers because of their lifestyle. Hunter-gatherers are mostly focused on basic immediate needs. When you live in a way, were planning doesn’t go further than what you will eat for dinner, then optimism/pessimism doesn’t play that big a role. Do hunter-gatherers get depression, and just sit around all day doing nothing? I think a lot of modern “mental issues” developed together with civilisation. Anorexia is a good example of that.

    About lactase persistence, I think it is a bad example, because it doesn’t just have high levels Scandinavia, but in all of northern Europe, as well Hungary, Ireland and the UK. It’s frequency in mainland Italy is about 50% from what I can gather, while Sardinians seem to only have 14%. From what I gather it’s presence is pretty significant in France too. Have a look at “A worldwide correlation of lactase persistence phenotype and genotypes”. They link to it from the Wikipedia page on LP.

    As I understand it, our current understanding is that it wasn’t until the bronze age that LP was fixed in the European population, or maybe we should rather say the northern European population. Since then it’s spread quite a lot. And the optimism gene would have had much longer time to spread out across all of the European population, if it’s origin was in the mesolithic. Unless we assume that it actually has a much later origin like LP - which I’d personally be rather inclined to believe.

    In the bronze age, we actually had a climate in Scandinavia similar to southern France, but enter the iron age, it became very wet and cold here. Could there have been a bottle neck around that time? Quick "selection of the fittest” because of famine and hard times. War. The romans to the south. In such a setting, optimism would have been a very important trait. I still find it unlikely, but sure possible.

    I remember reading once, how many villages were abandoned going from the BA to the IA in southern Scandinavia, and how patterns of sacrifice changed. It’s clear that the focus in their myths changed. The myth of the sun chariot seemed very important to the BA Scandinavians, but when we get to the Viking age, it’s completely moved in the background in favour of wargods like Thor, Tyr and Odin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I see that geography isn't your strong suit. Denmark, Finland and Norway have about 5.5 millions inhabitants each. Sweden has 9 millions. In comparison, Ireland has 4 million, New Zealand 4.6 million, Austria has 8.5 million. The Netherlands (16 million) and Australia (24 million) are a bit more population, but not that much (less than twice and 3 times that of Sweden). On the other hand, Luxembourg has only 0.5 million inhabitants, 10 times less than Denmark. Ireland is certainly as homogeneous as Denmark, if not more. They are almost purely Celtic (R1b-L21) and have very few immigrants compared to Scandinavia.
    Ha ha. No, you’re right. Geography certainly doesn’t seem to be my strong suit. I’m not claiming size and homogeneity are the only factor making people happy, but I believe it is one of them. The reason is that it is easier, to keep a small country with a pretty homogeneous population happy, than a bigger and more diverse population.

    It’s way easier to be Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, than being Macron - at the moment.

    Now you mention Ireland (which by the way also has close to 100% LP) I can see several differences between Ireland and Denmark. Ireland is a much more conservative and religious country. They also have the conflict going on in the northern for the last 100 years or so, festering like a wound. In Scandinavia we haven’t had any kind of violent conflict for ages, except for a relatively uneventful second world war. (Denmark is currently at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we don’t feel this at all)

    Also Ireland was the poorest country in Europe until not that long ago, together with Portugal, and I seem to recall they were hit pretty bad by the economic crisis. But in all fairness, I don’t think Scandinavian countries are all that homogeneous any longer- But we used to be, and like everything else that I’m talking about in Denmark, it used to be better before - and maybe I’m talking about a Denmark that doesn’t exist anymore. But since most danes are pretty well off, maybe we just didn’t realise yet, how much everything is going down the drain.


    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Harakiri and all? I see that you have a profound understanding of modern Japanese culture. What part of Japanese culture do you think makes them unhappy? The anime and video game culture or the obsession with cute things and good food? Or their liberated sex life maybe (wait, that's the same in Denmark).
    It seems to have no effect at all on Japanese happiness. For all measurable data in the study on happiness (GDP, life expectancy, etc.) Japan scored very high. They have one of the safest and most trusting society on Earth. And yet they are unhappy. So what makes Scandinavians happy and the Japanese unhappy? I can't see anything else than genetic differences. The proof is that all East Asians are unhappy, and that Scandinavian Americans are just as happy as Scandinavians in Scandinavia.
    Lol, that hara-kiri comment was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek, but I thought you would get what I meant.

    How about insane work ethics, which cause a really bad balance between work life and leisure? People napping in the trains home from their 12 hour shifts? One week of holiday every year etc. Young people killing themselves from the pressure and expectations of the society and their parents? Or is that just happening in south Korea and China know? Or not at all?
    I know that Japan is changing. Young japanese are becoming more “Western” in many ways. Going to techno raves, taking drugs, backpacking etc. etc. (when I say young, I mean up to 40) But until recently, I think japan was a much more conservative society than the Scandinavian ones, and in many ways, I’m sure it still is.

    Also, of cause this is not culture, but the majority of the Japanese live in really big overpopulated cities. Not much tree’s or greenstuff in Tokyo, if I recal correctly, except for that big park in the center.
    The house prices in the bigger cities in Denmark have gone up in recent years, and from personal experience, I can tell you that that is something making a lot of people more unhappy. As I recall my trip to Tokyo, it’s completely extreme compared to Europe in that regard. Maybe London is following suit?

    Anyway, I’m not going to claim I’m an expert in asian culture, but it seems to me that it’s not really meaningful to compare europeans and asians because of the cultural differences. Some of those differences stem from Buddhism and Taoism etc. even though people aren’t particularly religious anymore. In Denmark we discuss a lot what influence Protestantism has had on our society for instance. It’s an ongoing debate obviously.


    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    We will see, but if I am right about genetics being the cause of happiness, chances are low that Scandinavians will be as unhappy as southern Europeans. On the other hand Scandinavian countries are welcoming far too many poor Muslim immigrants/refugees, so it could destroy their present culture and lifestyle and make them unhappy. The EU isn't to blame for this. If Muslim immigration goes unrestrained, 30% of the population of Sweden will be Muslim in 2050 and 16% in Denmark.
    Yes, yes, I know and I agree. I believe the middle projection to be the correct one though, at least for Denmark. But 5% more muslims in Denmark in 10 years is also too much.
    I blame the EU because they made the Schengen agreement without having a proper plan about what to do about immigrants and refugees - and they still don’t. EU is a mess in my opinion. It might be because of selfish reasons, but I’d like to get our borders back, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    A lot of happiness or unhappiness is illusory. That was my point with the French and all their negativity and pessimism. They live in one of the best societies and one of the most liveable countries on Earth and nevertheless are the world champions of complaining and striking.
    Yes, it’s a good argument. There might be a genetic explanation, but it might also be culture that you are mistaking for genes. And “correlation doesn’t mean causation” is still a pretty basic scientific axiom. The correlation you see with Germanic people also fits with Lutheran Protestantism for instance, and Scandinavian culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I looked it up and the S.U system is just Denmark's system of grants for poorer students. Most developed countries have similar programs, although students do not always get paid to attend university (usually the grant just cover all the expenses).
    No, not really. It’s unique in the world. Every Danish citizen above the age of 18, and not living at their parent’s place, are entitled to S.U. when they study - even the richest man in Denmark (and then very cheap loans from the state with that, if the S.U is not enough for you)

    Actually, the S.U system is obviously getting more and more limited like everything else in our society. You can get it as long as you want, when you go to what is called “youth education”, which is basically everything not university. At the university it’s now limited to 6 years I think. So you can get the money until you’ve done your master thesis, and then there’s one year to spare, called the “fjumre år”, which basically means “the botch up year”. But I think they are talking about removing that.

    Back in the 70ies and 80ies, we had this concept of “perpetual students”, people set their up lives so they could live for the S.U, and basically spent all their lives studying at the university, first taking a degree in biology, then psychiaty, then history etc. etc…..So, in the end of the 90ies they made a limit of 6 years at the university.

    On the monetary side, S.U is about also just covering your rent and basic costs, like a poor students grant. Most students work on the side or take the cheap loan, which they then never pay back. Lol. But some people can get by on the S.U. I did for 1½ year because I was lucky and had a very cheap rent.

    But yeah, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think the S.U system itself, is what is making danes happy - But it does help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Be that as it may, you are mistaken to think that the Danes are over-educated. Looking at the .., Denmark ranks only 19th (36%) among developed countries, behind all other Nordic countries, but also behind Estonia, Lithuania and Russia, and behind Japan, South Korea, Israel, the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium. I know that many Danes are proud of their country, but the danger of being too proud is that you get a too rosy view of things and loose touch with reality. Denmark has about the same percentage of university graduates as Spain and is in the bottom half of the EU.
    Really? Fancy that. I totally agree with the last part. To be honest, I don’t think I see my own society with too rosy glasses, but I can understand if it comes off like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I agree that being on the dole rarely make somebody happy. But why are you saying that the dole isn't social security? What is social security for you then?
    In Denmark we have this concept called “det sociale sikkerhedsnet” which translated means “the social security net”. The system is supposed to catch you if you fall. I realise all other countries in Europe, also has this in varying degrees and some countries are probably better at it today than we are. But it is a big thing here, when the society fail catching people it's a scandal. I remember back in the 90’ies, you’d never see crazy homeless people on streets here in Copenhagen, because they were all at the hospital getting help. But it’s not like that today, cut backs have put them out on the streets, were they now live together with all the romanian gypsies we now have squatting - thanks to the EU.

    We also have the concept, that our society should work to break the “Negative social heritage”. The S.U system for instance, is a part of that. Funnily enough, Danish people aren’t very good at break out of their “Negative social heritage”, in contrast to south Koreans for instance. So maybe it’s just the idea of these social democrat concepts, that make the well-off danes believe everything is still rosy here?

    Danish people are actually quite lazy and comfortable, in my subjective opinion, even though we always pride ourselves of our protestant work ethics. I don't think we don’t like to work too much or too hard. And maybe that is part of our success. We’ve had economic success, but without too much of an effort.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Wealth is only one facet of quality of life. That's why I mentioned the long holidays, early retirement, good food, beautiful country, high life expectancy... If none of these matter to you, then what do you think make people happy? Whatever aspect of life we look at, Danes (or Scandinavians in general) are superseded by other countries. Yet Scandinavians are the happiest. What is the big secret then? I am telling you the genes for happiness are looking like a good answer now.
    I’m not saying these things don’t matter. I just think there’s culture too, as well other external factors like population size, homogeneity (like in northern Ireland or Germany), how conservative the society/culture is, degree of religiosity etc. etc. etc. I don’t think it’s just one simple answer. Actually, I’m sure that things like food and climate have minimal bearing on your happiness, because we can all get french food. And things like climate and nature, we take for granted if we grew up with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Macron is a great president, perhaps the best France has ever had. Many people love him. But as it is France, there will always be people who are dissatisfied and unhappy about anything and everything. The main reason people voted for the National Front was because of Muslim immigrants and refugees. The problem was exacerbated in most of Europe with the Syrian crisis. But if you think that Scandinavia is being spared (check again the link above), once again you are looking at the world through tinted glasses.
    I was talking about the voting system they have in France. I recall that a lot of people voted for Macron in the second round, because they didn’t want to vote Marine Le Pen. So, they didn’t actively choose Macron, but rather voted against Le Pen.

    I don’t know where you got the impression that I think Scandinavia is spared anything I actually think we are going down the drain at the moment. Which is why I vote for the Danish people’s party (Danish UKIP light. Our local populist party) They say NO to EU and NO to immigration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Actually Macron is going to pass his reforms regardless of rail workers striking for months. It's far more challenging to be a head of state in France than in Denmark, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.
    Absolutely. As I said earlier, I think a part of our success is that we became well off, without actually working to much for it. Our success has been easy.

    I must say I don’t have enough time, to keep up this discussion any longer (maybe I just write too long posts? Or maybe I’m just very stubborn and argumentative?) But I want to say, that while we might not agree on this topic, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your articles on various haplogroups. And while some people might not agree on your interpretation of the aDNA data we have so far, I certainly mostly do.

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    Just to be clear, social security isn't being generous and just handing people money if they become unemployed. Social security is helping people getting a new job - one they'll be happy about. This was actually an afterthought to my main post, which apparently was too long, and is awaiting approval by a mod.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    I think there is a world of difference among Japan and Denmark in terms of working culture - in Japan, there is a lot of hierarchy which make people feel obliged to their job/boss, while in Denmark individuals are much more free, creative and easily leave jobs for better ones. One can also compare holiday periods/weekly working time/benefits, attitudes to women in work, and how few women are in managerial positions in Japan. Somehow I don't think that Japanese type of hierarchical working culture helps people to feel happy, to follow their heart in finding a job that they love instead of silently sticking to what generally considered appropriate.
    Last edited by Dagne; 25-04-18 at 01:51.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagne View Post
    I think there is a world of difference among Japan and Denmark in terms of working culture - in Japan, there is a lot of hierarchy which make people feel obliged to their job/boss, while in Denmark individuals are much more free, creative and easily leave jobs for better ones. One can also compare holiday periods/weekly working time/benefits, attitudes to women in work, and how few women are in managerial positions in Japan. Somehow I don't think that Japanese type of hierarchical working culture helps people to feel happy, to follow their heart in finding a job that they love instead of silently sticking to what generally considered appropriate.
    Japanese never ask for a raise, and leave work long after end of a working day.
    Maybe, they just want to be liked and admired. ;)
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Japanese never ask for a raise, and leave work long after end of a working day.
    Maybe, they just want to be liked and admired. ;)
    You are right. They do want to be liked and admired. The Japanese are relatively insecure and anxious people who tend to be eager to please. Due to their collectivist mindset, they need constant validation and approval from the group in order to feel worthy about themselves. Perhaps it is this kind of culture that makes people unhappy, as all East Asian cultures are similar in that respect (despite stark differences in other respects) and all rank very poorly for happiness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagne View Post
    I think there is a world of difference among Japan and Denmark in terms of working culture - in Japan, there is a lot of hierarchy which make people feel obliged to their job/boss, while in Denmark individuals are much more free, creative and easily leave jobs for better ones. One can also compare holiday periods/weekly working time/benefits, attitudes to women in work, and how few women are in managerial positions in Japan. Somehow I don't think that Japanese type of hierarchical working culture helps people to feel happy, to follow their heart in finding a job that they love instead of silently sticking to what generally considered appropriate.
    Working culture may influence happiness. But that presupposes that all or most people surveyed are employees. There could be students, retired people, housewives, unemployed people, self-employed people, people in managerial positions, and so on. In fact, over half of the adult population aren't employees.

    If you look at the employment rate by country, i.e. the percentage of the working population that is actually working (not the exact opposite of unemployment rate, as many people who aren't working aren't looking for a job, such as housewives and students), in countries like Spain, Italy, France or Belgium only 60% of the population between 15 and 64 works. Now if you add to that the self-employment rate, which averages 15.5% in the EU, that's already over half of the population that doesn't fit the model you describe. And that does not include retired people, who surely also were among the respondents to the happiness survey.

    What you describe is basically what cultural psychologist Geert Hofstede calls Power Distance, i.e. the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations accept and expect that power is distributed unequally (such as having to defer to one's boss, instead of the more egalitarian Germanic approach in which everyone's opinion is respected). Power distance is especially high in East Asian countries (China, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia), but less so in Japan, which has an intermediary score (54) and is in fact closer to Scandinavia (31) than to China (80). So that doesn't explain it for Japan. France has one of the highest power distance scores in Europe (68), and Mediterranean countries score relatively high too (Spain is the lowest with 57), so in Europe at least there seem to be some degree of correlation between power distance and unhappiness. However Latin American countries score very high (81 to 95 in Central America) and yet people there are considerably happier than their development index would presuppose. So I think that the work culture only plays a small part in the variances between countries for happiness.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    I think that in Japan people in general are much more fixed to play a certain role in their life, obliged to behave in some certain way, which is like some sort of self-censorship, and it does not always add happiness in their lives. For instance, there is definitely less opportunities for Japanese women compared to European. My both grandmothers had interesting creative careers, they could themselves decide how they wanted to express themselves, they travelled, and this goes deep into family tradition. So I think this hierarchical paternalistic culture in Japan extends much more that just working culture relationships. If a person is without good recommendations and social ties it is very difficult to enter narrow professional groups in arts, business, etc. It is limiting people, and making them less happy. Do you see what I mean? Japanese culture is very secure, but it also has a lot of limitations for personal development and private initiatives, cultivating alternative ways.

    To my mind, when evaluating happiness, it would be important to weigh the following:
    - ability to develop talent when having no social ties and family support;
    - easiness of taking private initiative and sustaining oneself from creative careers;
    - having society where individuals with different social standing and achievement are respected;

    What is very good in Scandinavian societies is that that they made it possible for individuals to develop even if they don't have proper social ties and supports from family (sort of classless society standard) and also that individuals are respected no matter in what hierarchical position they stand, besides the society is open and accepts people who lead different ways of life.
    Last edited by Dagne; 25-04-18 at 12:54.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagne View Post
    I think that in Japan people in general are much more fixed to play a certain role in their life, obliged to behave in some certain way, which is like some sort of self-censorship, and it does not always add happiness in their lives. For instance, there is definitely less opportunities for Japanese women compared to European. My both grandmothers had interesting creative careers, they could themselves decide how they wanted to express themselves, they travelled, and this goes deep into family tradition. So I think this hierarchical paternalistic culture in Japan extends much more that just working culture relationships. If a person is without good recommendations and social ties it is very difficult to enter narrow professional groups, in arts, business, etc. It is limiting people, and making them less happy. Do you see what I mean? Japanese culture is very secure, but it also has a lot of limitations for personal development and private initiatives, cultivating alternative ways.
    I have lived nearly five years in Japan, but I have to disagree with your assertion that Japanese society is very hierarchical and paternalistic. It is true that gender roles are still well demarcated, more like until the 1950's in Europe. But the Japanese are quite egalitarian. They all see themselves as middle class (even when it is blatantly not true) and Japanese companies value dialogue and consensus between employees. The working culture is not as relaxed and informal as in Scandinavia, and can indeed be rigid and ceremonial, but nevertheless based on group harmony rather than deference to one's superiors. I would say that the closest equivalent in Europe in Germany.

    Family traditions are not what they used to be either. Young Japanese people are pretty free to do whatever they want, whether that is travelling and studying abroad, choose their university degree and career, and marry whomever them want (even foreigners), with generally little say from the family. Of course some families are more traditional than others, but the general trend is toward a more Western style openness and freedom.

    If there is one aspect of Japanese culture that is still stifling it is about expressing freely one's opinion (outside the closed circle of family and close friends). Their concept of honne and tatemae still run deep and that is mostly limiting for public debate, about such things as politics, immigration, the environment (and Fukushima disaster), and so on. The Japanese education system values consensus and harmony well over debate and critical thinking, so there is hardly any debate on any issue. France is the perfect antithesis of Japan in that regard. The French love so much debating and disagreeing about all and everything that it is hard to watch French TV without stumbling on one (or several) debates on the main channels. The Japanese are too polite to disagree or even voice any potentially objectionable opinion in public. The French actively seek a vigorous confrontation of ideas. But neither society is particularly happy, despite having everything, so that's probably not the answer to happiness either.

    To my mind, when evaluating happiness, it would be important to weigh the following:
    - ability to develop talent when having no social ties and family support;
    - easiness of taking private initiative and sustaining oneself from creative careers;
    - having society where individuals with different social standing and achievement are respected;
    I think that Japanese society does a fairly good job for these too. They may be a bit too materialistic and value achievements through money like the Americans, but they are otherwise very accepting of everyone in society, as if all the Japanese were one big family (very much like the Scandinavians). That is why crime is so low and trust so high in Japan.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Let's try and different approach and see why some people are more unhappy than they should.

    In the case of the Japanese, I would say that it is because the social exigencies of Japanese society are so stressful. People are very polite, but not in the relaxed, informal way of the British. Japanese politeness is extremely ceremonial and requires to use special honorific and humble forms, especially when talking to customers, older people and, to some extent, superiors (not so much direct superiors we meet everyday in the office, but people higher up the scale). It's especially tiring when dealing with customers, be it face to face, by phone or by email. Even between (not very close) friends, colleagues, neighbours or other acquaintances, people are expected to use pre-made expressions of politeness all the time (eg o-jama shimasu when entering a house, meaning something like "I am disturbing you"). Actually these forms are even used within the family sometimes.

    Japanese daily life is so full of these fixed expressions of politeness all the time that relationships feel very artificial and constrained. There is limited freedom of expressing oneself or just be who you are. You have to fit in the mould like everyone else all the time, and personally I found that that was one of the most annoying and stressful part of living in Japan. Even Japanese people who have lived abroad told me that they feel the same way when they return to Japan. I am not a very spontaneous person, but that is really taking all spontaneity out of daily conversations. Add to that the concept of tatemae that prevents people from expressing their opinions in public and instead just nod and agree with society's "official" opinion on everything, and it quickly feels like your mind is in a prison. That is one of the reasons why I left Japan. Too stressful. As a tourist, and especially as a foreigner who isn't expected to know Japanese ways, Japan is great as everybody is so polite and helpful. But I understand why the suicide rate is so high among the Japanese. There is a lot of social pressure all the time to conform and fit in the mould of Confucian etiquette. I started having gastrointestinal problems in my fourth year in Japan because of all the stress and anxiety caused by trying to behave too much like a Japanese (and with the added frustration of almost always being seen as a gaijin notwithstanding how well I spoke Japanese and followed the Japanese customs and etiquette).

    Interestingly cancer rates in Japan are much lower than in Western countries, except for stomach cancer, which is much higher. Is that the stress, anxiety, frustration and repressed feelings?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    The reason why the French aren't as happy as they should has to do with their negativity and pessimistic attitude, they propensity to complain, their penchant for confrontation, and perhaps above everything else their sense of entitlement. The reason why strikes are so common in France is that people feel, since the French Revolution, that they have inalienable rights, including the (in)famous acquis sociaux (collective rights obtained by all employees in the country and enshrined in the labour code). Once such a right has been granted, it is almost impossible for the government to take it back, even if it means that the country will collapse because it can't afford to sustain such rights anymore.

    That's why railway workers have recently promised to keep striking every few days for three months until Macron abandoned the idea of changing some of these rights. It doesn't seem to matter that the SNCF (State-owned French Railway) is crumbling under debts of €46.6bn (bigger than the national debt of Iceland or Croatia). Let's all go bankrupt together, but do not touch the acquis sociaux and special privileges of rail workers, who are now guaranteed a job for life and in some cases retirements in their 50's.

    This is just one example of how the French think about their acquis sociaux. It is the same for every sector. That's why political analysts often claim that France is unreformable. And it all has to do with French bloodymindedness and pugnaciousness. This attitude is part of the French way of life. It pervades every aspect of society. That is why the French love TV debates that would be perceived as discourteous or even vicious by the polite Brits or Japanese.

    In France words can be violent due to the lack of restrain on self-expression. Once again it could be that the French, being taught since childhood about the greatness of the human rights acquired during the glorious French Revolution, such as freedom of thought and freedom of speech, grow up thinking that they can say whatever they want whenever they want, and confuse 'right' with 'entitlement'. In fact, the word 'entitlement' does not exist in French. It translates as droit, which means 'right'. As a native French speaker myself, I think it is fair to say that most native French speakers, especially those who aren't fluent in another language that has this distinction of meaning like English, think that a right is an entitlement (in the sense of privileges or special treatment). That is why they get so angry whenever the government tries to pass reforms for the good of the country, and why rail workers prefer to see their company disappear than to lose their inalienable rights (an expression that is very often used in France).

    They may not realise it, but that very sense of entitlement may just be why a lot of French people aren't as happy as they ought to be. If they considered themselves lucky to live in a society where people have so much freedom, so many rights and such a high quality of life compared even to other developed countries, the French would be much happier. It's a typical case of loss aversion and endowment effect in psychology.

    The loss aversion principle is that for most people it is better to not lose $5 than to find $5. The same goes with social rights, and even more so when people think (rightly or not) of these rights as inalienable.

    The endowment effect is the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them. For example, people will tend to pay more to retain something they own than to obtain something they do not own. What is happening in France is that people identify very strongly with their rights, instead of just seeing them as laws that fluctuate with circumstances. They feeling of endowment is why they cling so strongly to their rights and become crazy when politicians try to take them away from them. It's an identification problem. If someone explains to them that these rights are just temporary laws and not the Ten Commandments set in stone, perhaps they would be more flexible. Sometimes I feel like the religious dogmatism that was shattered by the French Revolution found its way in the concept of Human Rights, which was then translated into inalienable social rights. The very expression of acquis sociaux has the connotation in French that these social rights were "acquired once and for all".

    Other Romance-language countries in Europe may have a similar attitude to the law, although probably not nearly as strong as the French do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Let's try and different approach and see why some people are more unhappy than they should.

    In the case of the Japanese, I would say that it is because the social exigencies of Japanese society are so stressful. People are very polite, but not in the relaxed, informal way of the British. Japanese politeness is extremely ceremonial and requires to use special honorific and humble forms, especially when talking to customers, older people and, to some extent, superiors (not so much direct superiors we meet everyday in the office, but people higher up the scale). It's especially tiring when dealing with customers, be it face to face, by phone or by email. Even between (not very close) friends, colleagues, neighbours or other acquaintances, people are expected to use pre-made expressions of politeness all the time (eg o-jama shimasu when entering a house, meaning something like "I am disturbing you"). Actually these forms are even used within the family sometimes.

    Japanese daily life is so full of these fixed expressions of politeness all the time that relationships feel very artificial and constrained. There is limited freedom of expressing oneself or just be who you are. You have to fit in the mould like everyone else all the time, and personally I found that that was one of the most annoying and stressful part of living in Japan. Even Japanese people who have lived abroad told me that they feel the same way when they return to Japan. I am not a very spontaneous person, but that is really taking all spontaneity out of daily conversations. Add to that the concept of tatemae that prevents people from expressing their opinions in public and instead just nod and agree with society's "official" opinion on everything, and it quickly feels like your mind is in a prison. That is one of the reasons why I left Japan. Too stressful. As a tourist, and especially as a foreigner who isn't expected to know Japanese ways, Japan is great as everybody is so polite and helpful. But I understand why the suicide rate is so high among the Japanese. There is a lot of social pressure all the time to conform and fit in the mould of Confucian etiquette. I started having gastrointestinal problems in my fourth year in Japan because of all the stress and anxiety caused by trying to behave too much like a Japanese (and with the added frustration of almost always being seen as a gaijin notwithstanding how well I spoke Japanese and followed the Japanese customs and etiquette).

    Interestingly cancer rates in Japan are much lower than in Western countries, except for stomach cancer, which is much higher. Is that the stress, anxiety, frustration and repressed feelings?
    You explained it super well Maciamo! But as a foreigner I do admire Japan, its traditions and achievements a lot, and want to learn from them, too :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    If there is one aspect of Japanese culture that is still stifling it is about expressing freely one's opinion (outside the closed circle of family and close friends). Their concept of honne and tatemae still run deep and that is mostly limiting for public debate, about such things as politics, immigration, the environment (and Fukushima disaster), and so on. The Japanese education system values consensus and harmony well over debate and critical thinking, so there is hardly any debate on any issue. France is the perfect antithesis of Japan in that regard. The French love so much debating and disagreeing about all and everything that it is hard to watch French TV without stumbling on one (or several) debates on the main channels. The Japanese are too polite to disagree or even voice any potentially objectionable opinion in public. The French actively seek a vigorous confrontation of ideas. But neither society is particularly happy, despite having everything, so that's probably not the answer to happiness either.
    Maybe that points out to something that I have heard many people speculating as one of the main sources of happiness: moderation and equilibrium in one's opinions, decisions and behavior. Too much of anything seems to have a long-term detrimental effect, at least on a collective basis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Maybe that points out to something that I have heard many people speculating as one of the main sources of happiness: moderation and equilibrium in one's opinions, decisions and behavior. Too much of anything seems to have a long-term detrimental effect, at least on a collective basis.
    Yes, perhaps. But if moderation is the key to happiness, the English should be the happiest people on Earth!

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    Maciamo. I couldn't agree more on your last posts about both the japanese and the french.

    Very funny, after having written my last post in this thread I went into a bookstore in the center of Copenhagen, and they had a table with like 10-15 different books on the topic of danish happiness. We have TV shows about it too and what not. It's like it's becoming a self-fulfiling profecy, lol.

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