Scandinavia is the mystical sounding name for the collection of northern European countries made up by Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Despite dealing with frigid arctic temperatures and months of darkness, it turns out that Scandinavians are pretty darn happy. The secret of Scandinavian happiness got out after several international studies (Prosperity Index, released in 2010 and the UN World Happiness Report), published in 2013 reported their findings. The Prosperity Index is based on information gathered from the Gallup Organization, which interviewed 1,000 different people from each of the 110 countries it polled. Here, Scandinavian countries always come up on top. The UN World Happiness Index on the other hand, used experts in the fields of economics, psychology and statistic to help measure the well-being of people across the world. They considered six variables when determining a nation’s happiness, that included, GDP, healthy life expectancy, as well as variables to measure citizen’s perceived level of trust, generosity and freedom. This year’s winner is Denmark, followed closely by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland in fifth place. The US ranked 13th and the United Kingdom trailed behind and ranked 23rd. So what IS their secret to happiness, in terms we can all understand? While studies have uncovered a great deal of what makes Scandinavians such a happy bunch, we think that there are seven simple reasons that explain their happy state.

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1. Lots of FreebiesUniversity of Oslo wide angleBeing Scandinavian has a ton of perks. For starters, every Scandinavian can go to school for free. So earning a BA, MA or even PhD won’t rack up monstrous student loans or cost the students a cent. Scandinavia is also home to some the world’s most comprehensive universal health care.

2. Better Work/Life BalanceHappy Family eating the thanksgiving dinner togetherScandinavians know that the key to happiness is quality over quantity and that work shouldn't interfere with family time. Many offices and businesses in Denmark close before 5 PM and the idea of working over a weekend is unheard of. There is a strong emphasis on quality time and sharing meals together as a family.

3. Outdoor loversCouple Cross Country Skiing in EngadinDespite freezing temperatures for most of the year, Scandinavians aren’t ones to shut themselves indoors during the long, dark and cold winter months. They take advantage of the great outdoors all year long, from hiking, cycling, sailing and swimming in the summer to cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing in the winter They are a hearty lot who show their appreciation for nature all year long.

4. Travel experts Scandinavians are some of the most well-travelled people on Earth. On average, Scandinavians lead the pack for countries with the most vacation days. Sweden boasts a whopping total of 41 vacation days, followed closely by Finland with 41 and Denmark with 34. Travelling to warmer climates is the perfect way for Scandinavians to recharge, soak in some much needed sunshine and escape their frosty homeland...just long enough to appreciate all of its incredible assets.

5. The Northern LightsNorthern lights aurora borealis landscapeScientifically known as Aurora Borealis, the dazzling Northern Lights are one of nature's most magical and somewhat eerie phenomenons. While the Northern Lights can been viewed in other regions of the world, Scandinavians have the edge over the rest of us thanks to their northern latitude. So residents of Sweden, Norway and Finland don't have to travel very far to marvel at nature's ultimate light show.

6. Absurdly attractiveSwedish fans at the Women European Basketball Qualifier game betScandinavians are some of the most good-looking people on Earth, it's a fact, or if it's not it should be. If you need proof of their striking genetics, just look at Alexander Skarsgard, Malin Ackerman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lanaster from Game of Thrones) and Viggo Mortensen. Whether it's their Viking ancestry and genetic makeup or their nutrient-rich diet of lean meat, fish and lingonberries that make them so attractive, Scandinavians are hotter, healthier and yes, happier.

7. Sleek designs galoreMALMO, SWEDEN - JANUARY 2, 2015: Interior of large IKEA store with a wide range of products in Malmo, Sweden. Ikea was founded in Sweden in 1943, Ikea is the world's largest furniture retailer.Since the 1930's Scandinavian artists have been the trendsetters in modernizing interior design and architecture. Characterized by minimalistic shapes and functional designs, the Scandinavian influence can be seen the world over. Cough, cough, did someone say IKEA?


Okay, okay, it's likely these seven sensations are not the end all be all of what makes Scandinavians so much happier than the rest of us....but we think they're pretty close!

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