I disagree that that statement and unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence should mean that the United States and its inhabitants are the happiest people on earth. It seems like a bit of a fallacy statement. Sure, it states that we have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. But reading it for what it means and not how it looks is important. We have the right to pursue happiness, to chase after it and hopefully capture it. This does not mean that we should or are or will be the happiest on earth by any means. I do not think some words (although very important words) will suddenly make you happy just because it says you have the right (I wish it were that easy). It is up to you, your support group, your choices, your outlook on life, emotional intelligence, and probably another hundred things that make your happiness. Not all of them are even controlled by you; your childhood, romantic experiences, family relations, education, and even media can also affect your outlook on life and how happy you are. These are things that we as a nation and people can help change to make happiness more achievable. A united and supporting nation with the right amount of trust and nationalism for its government (with mutual trust and a watch on the government) could help this.
I do think that there are some good lessons and words of wisdom that we as a nation can learn from the danes however. I have noticed that in America, especially the United States – there is a kind of culture of expectation. We expect people to meet our expectations and get upset when that does not happen. Granted, like most generalizations, this is not always the case, but it is a trend and common. In other countries, asking for your food to be remade or demanding a refund is very rude and not tolerated, but in the United States it is expected. Americans generally expect things to revolve around them, which is not always good. I myself think individualism is a great thing, but like most things – in too large a dose it can be bad. I think only thinking about yourself and never the greater good is not a healthy way of thinking – both for yourself and others. The opposite is true as well, in many religions it stresses to think mostly for the group and not for yourself – which is unhealthy too. I think a good medium is best, being an individual but also concerned for the community and greater good. I think adopting this would help our outlook to be more positive and happy.
What the Danes think as far as setting their expectations low has some good lessons as well, as long as it is not taken too far. If you are always expecting the best then you will surely be disappointed and unhappy. In contrast if you always expect the worst you will have a poor outlook on life and be unhappy and pessimistic. I feel that most things boil down to finding the right amount, and that is what life is all about – finding the right amount of everything. So, setting your expectations low may help you be happy, but can also be bad if they are too low. Aiming for no expectations is the best in my opinion and leads to a more positive outlook on life. I certainly struggle with that myself, being a more neurotic person among other things, but as long as you are trying – well, that is all one can do.