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This Country Has the Happiest People In the World

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If you've ever blamed the cold weather for your grumpy mood, you officially can't anymore. Today, the fourth annual World Happiness Report was released in Rome, where out of 156 countries, Denmark nabbed the top spot...for the third year in a row. You've gotta wonder what they're doing up there to stay so smiley despite their long, cold winters, right?

Also on the list: Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. Notice any trends? It seems all of Scandinavia is smiling, and they're having a blast Down Under. Landing in the thirteenth spot was the United States, up two spots from last year. (Feeling low? We have your 7-Step Guide to Happiness.)

What you may be wondering, of course, is how these countries were found to be the happiest. The researchers looked at seven factors: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. Specifically, the editors point to factors beyond financial well-being that tie many of these nations together. "In Norway, it's quite common for people to paint each other's houses even though they can all afford to pay to have their houses painted," said John Helliwell, Ph.D., professor at the University of British Columbia, and editor of the report. "They go out of their way to help each other, and it becomes a social event, and those events are enormously supportive of well-being."

Think about it: Denmark offers its citizens a lifetime's worth of welfare and is quite egalitarian in nature, with 43 percent of the nation's top jobs being held by women. And despite high taxes, the citizens don't complain, citing the government's large returns as the reason why. Likewise, other Scandinavian nations (all of which made it in the top ten) share similar liberal, left-leaning policies, such as universal healthcare. See the common thread?

While this study is self-reported to a degree (you can't define "having someone to count on" in black and white terms, for example), and thus has room for error, we can't help but think that if people weren't happy, they wouldn't report being so. Now about that trip to Copenhagen...

Already booked your trip? We have 9 Clever Ways to Make Your Vacation Healthier.

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