Why The Smartest Countries Are Not The Happiest

Being smart is generally a good thing. You can use your smarts to make more money and do more things with ease. However, what if you live in one of the smartest countries in the world. Can your smartness shine through when many of your peers are equally as intelligent?

Or what if you live in one of the happiest countries in the world. If you're not always happy, will you feel like there's something wrong with you? Surely, there are some unhappy people living in Norway and Sweden, two countries that consistently rank in the top 5 happiest countries in the world.

The interesting thing I've found is that the smartest countries are not the happiest countries in the world. And at the end of the day, I think most of us would rather by happy and dumb than smart and miserable!

The Smartest Countries In The World

In a 2002 to 2006 study, British professor Richard Lynn measured the IQ of citizens of more than 80 countries. He found that people from Singapore and Hong Kong came out on top, followed by South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Italy as the top seven countries.

Maybe having a high average IQ is one of the reasons why Asians have the highest income in America. A combination of intelligence, education culture, and a more cohesive family unit are often cited as reasons for why such a small minority outperforms. But are Asian people happier? Doubtful.

Below is a list of the smartest countries in the world as measured by average IQ number. Notice how the United States is missing from this list.

Smartest Countries In The World by average IQ Number

Average IQ By Country

The United States has an average IQ of 98, which puts it just below the average IQ in the world of 98.36. You would think that with all our wealth and fancy universities, Americans would have a higher average IQ.

Except for schools like Oxford, Cambridge, INSEAD, Beijing University, Tokyo University, and the Indian Institute of Technology, I don't know many other foreign universities that are as well-regarded as our top 25 universities in America.

Average IQ by country

Just as the SAT or ACT exam used to test student abilities may contain culturally biased content, so could IQ testing. Giving the same test to people from widely differing communities fails to take different cultural values into account. It also does not recognize what different communities consider intelligent behavior.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development did its own smartest nations study, using adult education level as a key variable. It determined Canada (99 IQ average) was the most intelligent nation. Japan (105 IQ) placed second, while Israel (95 IQ) came in third.

Other high-ranking nations included Korea (106 IQ), the United Kingdom (100 IQ), the United States (98 IQ), Australia (98 IQ), and Finland (99 IQ).

The Happiest Countries In The World

Now let's take a look at the happiest countries in the world.

Since 2002, the World Happiness Report has used statistical analysis to determine the world's happiest countries.

To determine the world's happiest country, researchers analyzed comprehensive Gallup polling data from 149 countries for the past three years, specifically monitoring performance in six particular categories:

  • Gross domestic product per capita
  • Social support
  • Healthy life expectancy
  • Freedom to make your own life choices
  • Generosity of the general population
  • Perceptions of internal and external corruption levels

For 2021, the top seven happiest countries in the world were all Northern European Countries: Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. Rounding out the top 10 are New Zealand (8), Austria (9), and Luxembourg (10). Canada, the OECD's smartest nation, just missed the cut at 11.

Meanwhile, the least happy country in the world for 2021 was Afghanistan, whose 149th-place ranking of 2.523 can be attributed in part to a low life expectancy rate and low gross domestic product rates per capita. After the Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021, I suspect the country's overall happiness ticked down even further.

Happiest countries in the world 2021

The Smartest Countries Are Not The Happiest Countries

The World Happiness Report is also subjective. For example, the Editors of the 2020 report were John F. Helliwell (Canadian economist at CIFAR), Richard Layard (British labor economist at LSE), Jeffrey D. Sachs (American economist at Columbia), and Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (Belgian economist at Oxford). Where are the editors from Africa or Asia?

Therefore, it is easy to assume how the editors might show some preferences towards Europe, America, and Canada. It's human nature to be biased towards what and who we know best. We can never truly know about other cultures unless we speak their languages and live in their countries for years.

But let's pretend for a moment these editors from Anglo-Saxon countries all have zero biases. Below are the happiness rankings for the top six smartest countries in the world

  1. Singapore – Happiness rank #31
  2. Hong Kong – Happiness rank #78
  3. South Korea – Happiness rank #61
  4. Japan – Happiness rank #62
  5. China – Happiness rank #94
  6. Taiwan – Happiness rank #25

It sure seems like there is little correlation between how smart you are and how happy you are. People in Hong Kong, China, and South Korea have it particularly bad, being so smart, yet so down on the happiness rankings chart. The best showings are from Taiwan and Singapore.

Why The Smartest Countries Aren't Happier?

I lived in Taiwan for four years, Malaysia for four years, Japan for two years, and China for six months. I also visited Hong Kong over 20 times, visited Singapore over 10 times, and visited South Korea two times. I'm also Taiwanese Hawaiian. During this time, I met plenty of happy people.

I've never come across a Singaporean and thought they were a genius, perhaps due to the Singlish accent. But I have met plenty of Indians who were very intellectually intimidating at work and while I was getting my MBA.

I could write a book about my experiences in these countries. However, let me surmise the reasons why some people from these smart countries aren't happier.

  1. Especially crowded in Japan, China, and Hong Kong
  2. Pollution, especially in China, followed by Taiwan, and South Korea
  3. Extremely expensive real estate in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and China versus cheap U.S. real estate
  4. Low wages relative to housing costs
  5. Not being able to quiet quit. Long work hours, especially in Japan, China, and South Korea
  6. Later family formation due to high cost of living relative to wages
  7. An obsessive focus on capitalism
  8. No Asian people from the smartest nations on the World Happiness Report editorial board to provide perspective
  9. Gap between rich and poor feels too large (Squid Game on Netflix captures this mood in South Korea)

Related reading: The Unhappiest Cities In America Based On A New Wealth Reality Ratio

Different Ways Of Life In Smart Countries

In the smartest countries in the world, it is common for adult children to live at home with their parents until they get married and start families. Therefore, it is possible a lack of independence due to financial constraints is also keeping happiness down.

That said, having strong family relationships is a huge part of Asian culture. Being able to take care of your parents is an honor. Grandparents also being able to see and take care of their grandchildren, sometimes all under one roof, is also a positive.

Therefore, if the World Happiness Report were to use Family Cohesiveness as a happiness variable, Asian countries would likely shoot to the top.

Every time I visited one of these countries for work, I marveled at how focused people were on making money. Working past 7 pm and on weekends was commonplace. Perhaps due to a strong work culture, citizens of these smart countries don't feel like they can relax as often. Competition to get ahead is too fierce.

Whereas if you go to the happiest countries in the world, people are much more relaxed about work. Instead of living to work, they seem to be more about working to live. Further, there is a smaller gap between the rich and poor.

Therefore, as the smartest countries get wealthier, they should get happier as well. There will no longer be as much need to work long hours to try and get ahead. When you are richer, you naturally become nicer as well. There's simply less insecurity and jealousy when you have more money.

Worth Moving To A Happiest Country?

Even though the smartest countries in the world supposedly aren't the happiest, the happiest countries in the world are also some of the smartest.

For example, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria, Norway, Netherlands, and Finland are also some of the top 20 richest countries. Therefore, you might try to live in one of these countries for a better life.

Happiest countries in the world

One of my favorite cities in Europe is Amsterdam. It reminds me of a more laid-back San Francisco. I could definitely live in Amsterdam for a couple of years. However, I'm not fond of cold weather for four months of the year. Therefore, it's a hard pass for me living in one of the Northern European countries for the long term.

As for living in one of the smartest countries, I feel like Singapore and Taipei, Taiwan offer the best environments for families. Singapore is very expensive, but the food is amazing. The country is safe, and international grade schools are good.

Taipei also has amazing food and a good American school. The people are friendly and the cost of living is relatively low. The per capita GDP is about $32,000 and provides for about $59,300 in purchasing power parity. I'd love for both my children to become fluent in Mandarin.

It's not worth moving to one of the happiest countries to gain more happiness. You can find plenty of happiness where you currently live.

Related: The Proper Geoarbitrage Strategy: Your City, Your Country, Then The World

America Is Still A Good Combination Of Smart And Happy

After all my travels (60+ countries), America is still the best place in the world to live. We may not be the smartest or happiest country, but our country sure does provide a lot of opportunities. America has anything for anybody willing to look hard enough.

Further, we all have the opportunity to get smarter and happier if we want. Getting smarter is pretty straightforward. We just need to read, listen, and learn more from people who are smarter than us. Then we need to take action and constantly learn from our mistakes.

Getting happier is a little trickier. However, more knowledge generally provides more happiness. Having enough money to do what you want improves happiness. Doing something purposeful brings greater meaning to one's life. Finally, having supportive friends and loved ones are vital for happiness.

Personally, I give myself a 7-8 out of 10 on a subjective happiness scale. I was closer to a 5-6 out of 10 while working. It is really the freedom to do what I want that makes me the happiest. I'm sure most others who have gained more freedom feel the same.

Related posts on country happiness and smarts:

Home Country Bias Investing

Are You Smart Enough To Act Dumb Enough To Get Ahead?

When do You Finally Feel Rich? It's Not Always About The Money

Income By Race: Why Is Asian Income So High?

Reader Questions And Recommendations

Readers, why do you think people in the smartest countries are not the happiest? Why do you think people in the happiest countries are so happy and people in the smartest countries are so smart? What do you think about America or wherever you live? If you could only pick one, would you rather be smart or happy? Which country do you think has the best combination?

Pick up a copy of Buy This, Not That, my instant Wall Street Journal bestseller. The book helps you make more optimal investment decisions so you can live a better, more fulfilling life. You will be smarter and happier after reading!

Listen and subscribe to The Financial Samurai podcast on Apple or Spotify. I interview experts in their respective fields and discuss some of the most interesting topics on this site. Please share, rate, and review!

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 65,000+ others and subscribe to my free weekly newsletter. This way, you'll never miss a thing.

36 thoughts on “Why The Smartest Countries Are Not The Happiest”

  1. I think that in order to measure happiness, you should rather look at :

    I think the World Happiness Report is not actually really a report on Happiness because the “variables” such as “Generosity of the general population” has little to do with Hapiness imho.

    Regarding family relationships, while I think it’s important, I would like to point out that, as a Canadian, my 2 closest asian friends both have issues related to “strong family relationships”. I remember 1 of them coming to work one morning crying because she was so exhausted by her stepmother trying manage her life. My other friend had issues with his parents counting too much on him to take care of them. In my culture, it’s the opposite, the parents take care of their children even when they are old by helping with the kids and by helping financially since they had their whole life to get rich.

  2. Among those who are happy, it depends on the city as well. San Diego folks seems a lot more happy than some folks I have met in the US Northeastern cities.

    I have known about the happiest countries and hope to earn enough money to buy a second home during retirement in one of these cold countries and live there during the not-so-freezing months.

  3. In terms of intelligence, it looks like the majority of the highest ranked countries embrace rote learning in their education to a greater extent than many of the others. To me, this has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence. Of course, intelligence is a multi-faceted, highly debatable concept, but imo true adaptability is much more correlated to intelligence then scoring well on an IQ test. That is, the ability to achieve a desired outcome (whatever that desired outcome may be) in whatever situation you’re in. Given that everything around us is constantly changing, this ties in very closely with being adaptable.

    Happiness is also an interesting one. At the country level, it’s easy to see that a stable country where trust in government is high and all (or close to all) people have their basic needs covered would score higher. If you don’t have enough to eat your happiness score would likely be low, significantly brining down your country’s average. Even a relatively small percentage of people that don’t have their basic needs met could significantly impact a country’s happiness index. However, after that, I would say happiness is much more internal. People who have significantly (or even somewhat) above average intelligence may have a much easier time seeing negative aspects in things in their lives, that most people around them don’t see. They may have a harder time making friends, and relating to those around them. Both of these could bring down overall happiness.

    1. “ embrace rote learning”

      Maybe. Or maybe the smartest countries in the world we’re always doing the things I’ve always been doing. And some random researchers from different countries decided to create a survey based on what they believed to be important.

      Intelligence is harder to manipulate. The scores are the scores.

      Whereas happiness is much more subjective to rate. Therefore, if you are intelligent, you should believe in your own abilities and try to do some thing entrepreneurial. Bet on yourself!

      And if you are not as confident in your abilities and intelligence, join a firm that has intelligent people and ride on the rocket.

      1. “Intelligence is harder to manipulate. The scores are the scores.”

        Well the results of the test itself are hard to manipulate, but whether they are correlated to intelligence is what’s debatable.

        “Whereas happiness is much more subjective to rate. Therefore, if you are intelligent, you should believe in your own abilities and try to do some thing entrepreneurial. Bet on yourself!”

        I agree 100%. So I guess the question is…do the most intelligent countries (based on the test in the article) produce more successful (whatever the measure of success is) entrepreneurs or companies per say 100k people than the others. My guess would be no, but I really don’t know.

    2. China and India (ancient civilizations) had the tradition of rote-learning. The religious texts, myths, epics, philosophies had to be passed on to next generation by rote-learning. Writing them all down came much later. Hence the priestly class, the upper-educated class became the power centres of these civilizations – the trend passed on to regions they influenced.
      Contrast this to the West where things started looking up much later in their history.

      Where there are enough funds to put into the most trivial topics of research and technology -progress and prosperity seems to come to them.

      This is advantage West – more specifically the current Anglo-American axis and Scandinavia. The rest of Europe does not seem to be doing that well.

      The Asian, Latin and African nations have to deal with a burgeoning population, readapt due to displacement of their way of life and thinking by the colonial powers, draining of their resources for centuries – their priorities are totally different from the affluent West.

      Japan is an example – quick to adapt to Western ideas and rapidly industrialize in the early 19th century, they became a colonial power instead of being colonized. See where they are now.

      And the great US – sucks up all the talent of the world with the lure of money and prosperity; attempts to destroy anyone who threaten their hegemony (USSR; Mid-East with funding the mujahideen/isis when it suits their needs and keeping Israel as counter-weight; Japan with the devaluing of dollar in 90’s leading to the Japanese export and yen bust and their decades of economic underperfomance,; and now China).

      How can one be happy in such a world?

    3. America the best place to live hahahah get real. Gun violence and constant riots corrupted food chains and foods depleted from basic nutrients. Confrontational attitudes. Normal people unable to afford decent quality foodstuffs, rocketing obesity and no healthcare. Yeh real estate is cheap.

  4. You know the happiness survey ranking is bull crap when the top seven countries are cold and dark for five months a year. Nobody wants to live in that type of environment.

    1. haha Jack, I’m canadian and I kinda agree with your statement, I hate winter … but not everybody does!

      And looking at our immigration rate, it seems a lot of people tend to be fine with winter. We even have relatively strong immigration from France in my region because they enjoy our better quality of life (thanks to higher GDP per capita), lower unemployment rate, equal opportunity … and maybe our vast empty territories and less political extremism .. and we speak French in Quebec. We also have less gun violence than USA and less political/racial polarization and religion is less important/present here. Also, some regions are not as cold as you would think for example in British Colombia.

      Real winter/snow last 3 months max so it’s not that bad. You can take that time to relax inside and do the stuff you do less during summer like video games, tv, etc. Or you can go play outside : playing hockey, ice skating, skiing, etc. With good winter clothes, it’s not that bad. And when it ends, you REALLY enjoy summer because you know winter will eventually come back lol.

      From mid december to mid march, it’s relatively cold (between -10 and -35) but aside from that, expect between -10 and +35. -10 can be actually pretty cool since you can do outdoor sports like running/ice skating without feeling too hot. Usually under -25 I don’t go out unless required (work, etc) but many people go skiing, etc.

      If it was not for my job and family, I would have moved somewhere else because I prefer warmer climate, probably USA since it’s so close, diverse, rich and it would be easier to move there than elsewhere, except maybe France because they speak french like here.

      1. I do with you that being cooped up inside for 3 months during winter makes you really enjoy summer. I lived in NYC and Virginia for 10 years and I loved it when spring came. Summers were too muggy though!

  5. Well written piece Sam!

    The OECD assertion that Canada is “smartest” is highly debatable as observed by this Canadian who has lived and worked in many places, and been around the block for close to 60 years.

    My own observations about this country would be quite different based on the state of play here, what the majority of Canadians appear to believe, and who is in control. Despite living in this very place (or perhaps because of it), I got rich and retired early. Fortunately, intelligence isn’t defined or limited by man-made things like “countries”.

    Canada and Canadians had good fortune for decades. Luck, circumstances and some industriousness in previous generations, for sure. There is little to commend it now, in my opinion. The country is circling the drain rapidly.

    1. Danka. The funny thing is, everything is debatable! Intelligence and happiness for sure are debatable.

      But there’s one thing that’s not debatable for Canada, and it’s your real estate market. If the US housing market got as hot as the Canadian housing market, prices would be 70% higher.

      I hope the world views America as highly as Canada one day.

  6. Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Sam. I’m a big fan of your site. I’m a psychology professor so this is one of the rare posts that I can speak to.

    You might be interested to know that lots of large-scale research studies have been conducted over the years examining this very question! Contrary to your hypothesis that there is no relationship (or that it’s negative), these studies tend to find a small positive relationship between IQ scores and happiness (usually measured with self-reported life satisfaction scales).

    For example, check out the 2017 paper in Journal of Vocational Behavior by Gonzalez-Mule and colleagues (“Are smarter people happier? Meta-analyses of the relationships between general mental ability and job and life satisfaction”). They analyzed data from over 20 studies, spanning over 20,000 people. They found that IQ scores tend to have a small positive correlation with life satisfaction, and that this relationship could be explained (at least partially) by income and job complexity. So, people with higher IQs tend to do more complex/interesting kinds of work, and get paid more for this work, resulting in a bit more life satisfaction (i.e., happiness) compared to folks with lower IQs.

    Granted, it’s a different level of analysis when thinking about the IQ scores and happiness levels of entire countries, but my guess is that you’d still see a positive relationship. Higher IQ societies probably have much better access to nutrition, education, healthcare, and technology–factors that are likely to improve a population’s self-reported happiness. That’s my guess anyway!

    1. Hi Professor! I was hoping to see more of a positive correlation, but why do you think the smartest countries in the world as measured by IQ are non-also in the top 10 happiest countries in the world?

      There looks to be a positive correlation with high happiness and higher IQ, but not higher IQ and higher happiness, if that’s possible.

      1. Hey Sam! My guess for why we don’t see the top 10 IQ countries represented in the top 10 happiness countries is because the size of the correlation between IQ and happiness isn’t very large. For example, the earlier study I referenced found only a small positive correlation of .15 between IQ and life satisfaction among individuals. This suggests that IQ only plays a small role in explaining happiness (and vice versa). Put differently, IQ only explains about 2% of the variance in happiness. Other factors (e.g., mental and physical health, personality, social support) are likely more important than IQ for explaining happiness.

  7. I would like to see the happiness numbers broken down further based on social status and economic activity. I suspect someone growing up in a crime ridden area like Baltimore or South Chicago would be substantially less happy than someone in a much safer locale. I believe the same would undoubtedly be true for most of the third world countries on the list, although even Mexico’s average is not that far behind the United States.
    Might some of the averages be skewed since the numbers are averages and not a median?

  8. I think the IQ test is bias. It seems to center on formal education. Those “smart” countries are full of stressed-out sleep-deprived students. There is too much competition and pressure. The obsessive capitalist culture doesn’t help either.
    The US does a better job with work/life balance and people are a bit happier. Here, you can work however you want. The Scandinavian countries have a lot better social safety net so people are less stressed out. I can see why people are happier there.

    I wouldn’t want to live in Northern Europe, though. It’s too cold for me. I’d go for New Zealand. It’s so laid back over there. Perfect for me.

  9. Manuel Campbell

    Interesting article. I loved it.
    Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

    Readers, why do you think people in the smartest countries are not the happiest?

    I think there is no link between intelligence and happiness. In fact, they can be quite opposites. Some very intelligent people can be unhappy because they can see what is wrong more easily. On the other hand, some people can be so stupid as to not even realizing their stupidity and live a happy and simple life without noticing what they are missing.

    Also, statistics on a country can be misleading.

    First, the difference between the averages (between 98 and 108) is very small. Personally, I would not consider somebody as “very smart” unless they have 120 or more. And I would not consider somebody “stupid” unless they have 80 or less. If someone is in the 80 to 120 range, I would consider them to be “normal”.

    Second, averages could be explained solely by randomness or by some external factors like immigration – ie. if you let in a lot of richer or smarter people on a low population base, it’s possible to increase an average with other variables than only the conditions inside the country. That could explain why there is more “smart people” in Hong Kong and Singapore for example.

    Why do you think people in the happiest countries are so happy and people in the smartest countries are so smart?

    I think happiness derives mainly from freedom (economic, social, legal, security, etc).
    That’s why – I think – some European countries fare so well. They have a good balance between all aspect that give more freedom to individuals.
    I think people can do better in US and Canada, but inequalities may be more acute in North America. Since the analysis is based on averages, and that more people will inevitably skew the statistics downward if they are poorer, I think this may explain why US and Canada are not at top of the list.
    As for Asian countries, I think they have a great culture, emphasising family and society first. But I think this is done at the expense of more freedom and hapiness for the individual. I don’t think this is inherently good or bad, but it’s a tradeoff that has to be made. There is some advantages of priorizing the community. But that put a lot of pressure on individuals to do things they don’t necessarily want to do.

    I think intelligence comes from a combinaison of natural habilities and a lot of training (studying, reading, exercising, etc). It’s possible that higher pressure from parents and peers push people to be smarter. This could explain why people in Asia are “smarter”.

    What do you think about America or wherever you live? If you could only pick one, would you rather be smart or happy? Which country do you think has the best combination?

    If I was living in a very bad country, like Afghanistan or Venezuela, I might want to look for a place elsewhere to live. But apart from that, I don’t think a particular country can make an individual smarter or happier. I think intelligence and happiness depends much more on specific individuals.

    If I had to choose between being smart or being happy, I think I would choose being smart. I think when you have intelligence, you can work your way through happiness. But I don’t think the other way around works – happiness cannot bring you intelligence.

    Overall, I think Switzerland has the best combinaison. They have more than 500 years of history of protecting individual freedoms. They have some of the biggest corporations – in finance and pharmaceuticals for example – assuring prosperity for their citizens. I think, in general, they are very smart and happy.

    1. Christine Minasian

      I wholeheartedly agree with you! I would live in Switzerland in a second!!! The beauty, the work-life balance, the people, the financial benefits, the location in Europe, etc. etc.

    2. All great points Manuel! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Even though 108 is not an impressive IQ, surely a higher average IQ produces more individual higher IQs as well.

      I am surprised you would choose intelligence over happiness. Do you think intelligence is a means to an end, which is usually happiness. I’m not being intelligent doesn’t mean being dumb.

      1. Manuel Campbell

        “Even though 108 is not an impressive IQ, surely a higher average IQ produces more individual higher IQs as well.”

        108 is probably high for an average of a population, but not for a particular individual.

        “Do you think intelligence is a means to an end, which is usually happiness.”

        I did not think that far. It was just a rethorical answer to your question – which I figured that if I get intelligence first, then I can get hapiness, and have both of them at the same time, instead of having to choose between one or the other. :-D

        But you are right. If I had to choose between one or the other, and can’t have both, I would probably choose hapiness.

        1. “ I figured that if I get intelligence first, then I can get happiness”

          I’d rather get the guarantee end goal: happiness!

          Intelligence is overrated now, especially since technology makes things so much easier to get smart, e.g. Google

  10. #8 on your list is significant.
    A diversity of perspectives should be a requirement for these types of endeavors.

      1. “Where are the editors from Africa or Asia?” LOL! is right!

        Serious question, why don’t studies like this happen in Africa or Asia?

        Another serious question, why isn’t Diversity valued in Africa or Asia?

        1. Maybe when you’re already happy, like Asian and African people are, there’s no need to write and publish happiness reports every year? You’re too busy enjoying life!

          1. Exactly!

            Um…wait. That doesn’t sound right.

            Unless…maybe Africans and Asians are happy because there is no Diversity?

  11. Fascinating and fun read. I’ve heard of the happiest country rankings for a while, but didn’t realize there were also smartest country rankings. And how entertaining to cross reference the two lists!

    I’ve traveled to several of the countries on both lists and still would choose living in the US. Even though our country has its own issues, the benefits outweigh the cons for me. It’s also just what I’m used to.

    Crowds, pollution, long work hours, and lack of independence are big negatives on my happiness so I can believe how that would put a damper on those Asian country’s happiness levels. I like access to city resources but without the crowds and bad air.

  12. Without having been to any of these countries, my guess is that there is a greater emphasis on achievement in “smart countries.” And if everyone is trying to get ahead, that means more competition and more work is needed to be “successful.” It’s hard to be happy if you are constantly comparing yourself to others and working long hours to distinguish yourself from your peers.

    But again, this is an “outside looking in” perspective so I may have it all wrong

    1. Yes, competition is fierce to get ahead in the “smartest countries.” As the overall quality of life improves, I guess these countries will rise in the happiness index.

      I just can’t last in freezing whether 3-4 months a year, which is why living in one of the Northern European countries is out for me. Also, it gets dark really early as well during the winters in Norway, Sweden, etc. I was already bummed it was getting dark at 7pm here in SF, when the weather is temperate all year.

  13. You lost me at Amsterdam. It rains quite a bit over there and the Dutch have a major superiority complex. Last time I visited there, I asked a bartender why the Dutch are so tall, his response, “so they can look down at everyone.” Sums them up for me. I know they have a reputation for being blunt, but I still just find them to be sour, stand-offish, and unpleasant overall. Plus, the only charming thing I find about Holland is the architecture in and around their city centre canals highlighted by an occasional windmill. Everything else is just dreary and dull. Food stinks as well unless you like eating anything devoid of nutrition.

    1. That’s a pretty funny response by the bartender actually! I would have laughed. Maybe it’s because I’m always joking around.

      For seven months of the year, Amsterdam is nice, just like NYC. You can find the beauty in any city.

      Great Indonesian food in Amsterdam. Where do you live?

      1. Yes great Indonesian food in Amsterdam but otherwise damp, cool, flat, cloudy, dark in winter, not where I’d want to live in Europe. France, Spain, Italy all seem a lot nicer. Now and then we talk about moving to Europe… now I live in Australia so probably we’ll stay here. I’m a uk citizen as well as aus. Could claim German citizenship to live in Europe… was surprised Israel came so low on the iq ranking ( I lived in Israel). Maybe all the smart people there didn’t do the test. :)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *