What makes Denmark different? Why are the so happy?
There are sidewalks and designated bike lanes EVERYWHERE. You're lucky to even find an adequate sidewalk in much of the US. Bicycles are not a nuisance because they have a place on the road. It's safer for everyone!
Plus, more Danish are getting exercise and saving money on gas, insurance, maintenance, and a car payment! There are a LOT less cars on the road which results in much less pollution!
I saw many Danes commute to the train on their bike, and board with their bike or stroller into the bike/stroller designated cabin and then when they reached their destination they were ready to roll. No road rage! Just easy! In the picture below you will see the dedicated bike lane and parked cars. They look like they are in the middle of the road but that's actually where you park on this one way street.
Danish Hyggee (Coziness)
The Danes are masters at creating warm and inviting atmospheres. Every bakery, cafe, and shop I've entered has felt inviting. Most of the restaurants are actually below street level. You have to walk down 3-5 stairs and climb into the shop like it's a walk out basement but with windows and warmth! P.S. the bakeries have an INSANE selection with the best baked and sweet goods I've ever seen!
They pay you to attend school
In the US we struggle to pay for our incredibly overpriced higher education. In Denmark, they have higher taxes, as a result, many of their expenses including COLLEGE is FREE! Not only is it free, but I was chatting with my AirBnB host and he said that you are actually paid to attend school! I said, "I'm sorry... What??" He told me Danish get approximately $1,100 a month to help with living expenses while he/she attends university. Wow!
Free Medical Care
As we are struggle in the US to come up with a way that living a healthy life is something not just for the rich and corporate-employed but for everyone, the Danish have it figured out. Their high tax wages allow ALL to enjoy free medical care. No abuse of the system, no pre-existing illness issues, because the system is designed for everyone not for profit.
Parks weave in and out of the city
If you're like me, you gravitate towards nature and not the industrial/city life. One thing I really appreciated about Copenhagen is that although it's a big city, the pedestrian and bike paths weaved you in and out of parks along your commute through the city. I saw hearing, ducks, geese, and other fowl and a variety of flora and fauna everyday I trekked through the city.
These are just a few observations. This year the Danes dropped one place from the happiest country in the world to the 2nd happiest (losing to their neighbors in Norway). The US is ranked #14. If you're curious who won the bronze, it's Iceland.