According to the 2019 Happiness Report from the United Nations, if you want to live a happy life, you’re likely to spend a lot of it bundled up from the cold. The 10 countries topping the 156 page report (which coincidentally ranked 156 countries) are all winter wonderlands.
The U.N. Happy Country Report
- Finland: Winter temperatures are often as low as -22oF in parts
- Denmark: The mean temperature in July is 63oF.
- Norway: “For those who come from warm and sunny places, the weather is an attraction in itself”– www.visitnorway.com
- Iceland: One of their glacier packs is the size of Puerto Rico.
- Netherlands: Last year the canals in Amsterdam froze solid.
- Switzerland: The Alps cover 65% of Switzerland.
- Sweden: You can stay in a hotel that is MADE OF ICE.
- New Zealand: New Zealand hosts more penguin species than any other country.
- Canada: If they didn’t invent outdoor Ice Hockey, they perfected it.
- Austria: Home of 438 Ski Resorts
Gallup Poll Disagrees
But before you trade in your Prozac for a parka, another research organization disagrees with the United Nations. Take a look at the 2019 Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index, in which Hawaii ranked as the happiest US state for the 7th year in a row. The average “winter” temperature in Hawaii is 78oF, so it’s definitely not the cold air that’s blowing sunshine up people’s grass skirts.
Still, there might be something to this cold-weather theory because the US states ranking second through ninth are a famously frigid group: Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Vermont, Delaware, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
While neither of the studies concludes that humans find particular joy in shoveling snow, salting their walkways, or paying more for toilet paper than anywhere else in the world (that’s Hawaii), people living in the top-ranking locales report greater feelings of well-being in general.
The studies measured factors such as feelings of connection, a community with social support, financial and personal freedom, and a healthy lifestyle.
So, whether you’re trapped indoors with people driving you bonkers (aka Cabin Fever) or you’re trapped on an island with people driving you bonkers (aka Island Fever), eventually you’ll probably feel connected to those people and build a strong sense of community.
It appears that in the right social environment, even if you’re chilled to the bone, you can still feel like you’re chillin’ on an island paradise.