And The Happiest Place On Earth Is...

Morley Safer On Why The Danes Are Considered The Happiest People On Earth

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"Do you think there's some kind of inverse relationship between the more powerful you are, the more unhappy you are? And the weaker you are, the happier you are?" Safer asks.

"Well, at least the pressure's off you, you know?" Christensen says. "And if you're doing pretty well and once in awhile there's outstanding, you're very happy about it. But if your starting point is you should be outstanding, that's not good."

Asked if he thinks Danes like being slightly in the shadows, Christensen says, "I think it's a little bit like in bicycle race. You like to come from behind."

Which is exactly what the underdog Danes did in the 1992 European Soccer Championship; Christensen says it created such a state of euphoria that the country has not been the same since.

But is there more to it? 60 Minutes asked Danish newspaper columnist Sebastian Dorset what he thought about Denmark's number one status.

"If you didn't tell me about the survey I wouldn't believe that Denmark was the happiest place. Because everybody complains all the time," Dorset says.

"But I find it fascinating that you say people complain. But there is a real sense of contentment here," Safer remarks.

"Yeah," Dorset agrees.

Dorset says that contentment may stem from the fact that Denmark is almost totally homogenous, has no large disparities of wealth, and has had very little national turmoil for more than a half century. "We have very little violence. We have very little murders. So people are, feel very safe," he says.

He says people feel secure. "[A] knife stabbing makes the front page every time. Yeah, I don't think that happens in America very often," Dorset says.

Happy as they may be, Dorset says Danes rarely show it. "People are not looking very happy in the street. They don't talk very much," he says.

"So people don't just strike up casual conversations on the train?" Safer asks.

"No. No, never. I think, actually, there's a very highly developed body language. When, if you are stuck on the window seat of a bus, and wants to get out, and there's a person next to you on the aisle seat, then you don't say, 'Excuse me, could I please get off?' You start rattling your bags and make sort of a gesture saying, 'I'm about to get up so please get up so I don't have to talk to you,'" Dorset says.

Asked if it might be shyness, Dorset says, "I don't know, it's considered a right by Danish people not to be talked to."

Danish students can fairly be described as utterly laid-back. Even so, they're surprised to be told they live in "happiness ville."

"When I go abroad, I usually see people look much more happy. For example, in southern Europe. They go about in the streets laughing much more than we do. I think you could say maybe we are more content," one male student tells Safer.

"What's the distinction you make between happiness and contentedness?" Safer asks.

"Well, if you're content you don't have so much to worry about. That's what I think," the student says.