Denmark to Open Museum Dedicated to Happiness

The country came in second on the annual World Happiness Report two years in a row.


(Minerva Studio /

While Disneyland claims to be the “happiest place on earth,” Denmark is pretty close to it. In fact, the Scandinavian country has a spot near the top of the World Happiness Report that is published annually by the UN.

But why do Demark (and the other Nordic countries) score so high? Is it the free education and healthcare, the good work-life balance that includes short hours and weeks of vacation time, or the culture of hyggja (feeling satisfied) that make Danes so happy?

These questions and more will be answered when The Happiness Museum open its doors (or virtual doors) in the spring of 2020.

The museum is being opened by the Institut for Lykkeforskning (Happiness Research Institute) an independent think tank that explores why some societies are happier than others and to improve the quality of life for people around the world.

"At the Happiness Research Institute, we receive many requests for visits - as people imagine the office to be a magical place full of puppies and ice-cream. Sadly, we sit in front of computers and look at data and evidence - but we thought 'let’s create a museum where we can bring the science of happiness to life'," Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute and author told The Local.

The museum will allow people to gain insights about happiness including the history and politics of happiness as well as the anatomy of smiles according to The local. Exhibits in the small museum have been donated by people around the world.

The museum is interactive which means that people can take part in exercises involving things like chocolate and light, as well as take part in thought experiments. One experiment involves the choice of taking a red pill or a blue pill, one will give you the illusion of a perfect life and the other gives you the chance to live in the real world. Which one would you choose?

Happiness has been pondered, measured and studied in other places as well but, is it something that science can qualify? Scientists say yes.

“When researchers talk about happiness, they’re referring to satisfaction with the way one’s life is going,” Jeff Sachs, co-creator of the World Happiness Report and a professor at Columbia University, told CNBC Make It. “It’s not primarily a measure of whether one laughed or smiled yesterday, but how one feels about the course of one’s life,” he said.

Sachs stressed that the country’s that score high on the Happiness Report are the ones that prioritize life balance which is the “Formula for happiness.” He said, “They’re not societies that are aiming for all of the effort and time to becoming gazillionaires, they’re looking for a good balance of life and the results are extremely positive.”

Will people draw the same conclusions through the experiments and exhibits at the Happiness Museum?  It doesn’t really matter if people understand the science as long as they take something positive with them from the experience.  

“We might be Danish and British - but we are first and foremost people,” Wiking told The Local. “I hope visitors will see how alike we are when it comes to happiness - that our guests exit the museum wiser, happier and a little more motivated to make the world a better place.”

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