There’s always a hundred reasons why you shouldn’t or you can’t, but only one telling you, you can. That voice that sneaks back into your mind every few months, asking the what if, all the while haunting you with constant regret and a good dose of apathy to get you through your current boring life.
Or, maybe it’s not boring. Maybe your life is so great that other people would kill to be you. But you wouldn’t, and that’s all that matters. You may feel depressed that the life everyone else dreams of isn’t giving you the satisfaction you crave.
According to a study done in 2014, asking participants to rank how they feel their life ranks on a scale from 0 to 10, 0 being the worst possible life for you and 10 being the best, the results showed remarkable similarities.
The 5 countries with the highest results (all above a 7.5) were Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark, respectively. Now, I asked myself why are 4 out of these top 5 countries Nordic? In my weak efforts to find any possible breadcrumbs or clues, I found that Nordic countries do have certain cultural similarities that may make a difference in a person’s level of satisfaction in life.
First, they are all, for the most part, Protestant. Although recently there is a rise of atheism and secularism, the Lutheran church is largely represented among inhabitants. Norway, ranked second, is a particularly wealthy nation among those on the list, their wealth stemming from their large oil reserves.
In addition to these reasons, the Nordic nations have relatively high taxes, but are still quite content with their governments, feeling that the people’s opinion matters and their governments represent the people. There is a strong social cohesion, a sense of identity and an idea of sharing among the community that is unique to other cultures around the world.
So, will being religious, wealthy, involved in governmental affairs, or being apart of a social community make you happy, satisfied, and content with your life? Well, there’s really no way to tell.
There’s no formula or pill that really substitutes that satisfaction you feel when you really love your life; when you come home from a long day at work and your dog is waiting at the door to greet you, excited and wagging its tail; when your 4-year old comes home from their first day in “Pre-K” and hands you a drawing they made just for you with a giant smile and a proud look on their face; When you come home for Christmas after a long time away and smell that amazing smell that only comes from Mom’s cooking.
There’s no duplicate. No recipe. No quick fix.
A happy life comes with patience, with trial and error, with mess-ups and spills, with hiccups and tears. A happy life is knowing that you have something special to give to the world, and you have received something special from it.
A satisfied life isn’t necessarily a good job or a loving marriage or a perfect family, but its being able to say that life could be much worse and you’re thankful it’s not. A small dose of perspective and wallah… a happy life.
What if what is keeping you from a happy life is really just… yourself?