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The latest in happiness measurement

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Administrative divisions of Denmark in effect ...
Image via Wikipedia

I have been paying off and on attention to an NY Times blog that has been touting high happiness survey results in Denmark.

During my recent 6 month stay in Dalian, China I spent a lot of time with a Danish buddy and all the talk about “happier Danes” got me thinking about how my buddy and I reacted to stuff in China. I guess it’s true that his expectations were lower than mine and he tended to accept crap we encountered with a calmer attitude than I did.

Here are the high points fromt the NY Times blog:

Danes have low expectations and so “year after year they are pleasantly surprised to find out that not everything is rotten in the state of Denmark,” says James W. Vaupel, a demographer who has investigated Danish bliss.

Danes, in other words, harbor low expectations about everything, including their own happiness.

If a B-plus grade made us happy last semester, it’ll take an A-minus to register the same satisfaction this semester, and so on until eventually, inevitably, we fail to reach the next bar and slip into despair.

Older people tend to have lower aspirations or, to put it in a more positive way, greater acceptance.

“Set thy heart upon thy work but never its reward,” counsels Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy text. It’s sound advice, now backed up by modern science. It’s worth noting, though, that Krishna never suggested, not for a moment, that such advice is easily followed.

So there it is some sort of proof that you could be happier if you did a better job of managing your expectations and accepted what you have with better grace and a smile!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/07/21 at 06:51

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