So, it’s official: Danes are among the happiest people in the world. And how do you stay happy when you pay up to 80% tax? Just be ordinary.
That’s the secret, according to sources in The Times, at least, who maintain that ‘the celebration of ordinariness is a recipe for contentment’.
It all sounds fairly simple; just don’t try be the best and you can’t disappoint yourself. There’s actually an unwritten law to that effect – “janteloven” – which is all about democracy and equality, and basically means that it’s never polite to sing your own praises or declare yourself better than anyone else.
The only trouble is – and I’m glad to see the article is honest about this – the secret formula only works for Danes in Denmark. If you are a foreigner or immigrant (which is a euphemistic way of saying refugee), the odds are not in your favour because Danes in Denmark don’t like to see someone trying to outdo themselves. More to the point, they don’t like the immigrant who runs a 24-hr shop in contravention of the standard 37 hour work week and ‘sacred weekends’, not really because, as they may claim, so-and-so is “taking our jobs” but because so-and-so reminds them of what they are not prepared to do to survive. They are not prepared to do it because they don’t have to, and not having to might make them happy, but it also makes them lazy.
Fine. That’s a massive generalisation and not all Danes are lazy and they’re not all xenophobic, but enough of them are, and I have the audacity to say as much a) because I’ve seen them, and b) because I am one. A Dane, that is. Now watch me sing my praises: I am neither lazy nor xenophobic. But then neither do I live in Denmark, which makes me the happiest Dane of all.
Still, there are things worth going back for. The beer. The licorice. The herring. The aquavit. Those crazy red sausages. And you haven’t been a really happy pig if you haven’t been to a Danish bakery…