Where’s the Happiest Place on Earth?

Kristen Clay Period 1

If you were to type in Google, “Where is the happiest place on earth?” the top source to pop up is from BBC News. As of March 20, 2017, BBC News declares Norway the happiest place on Earth.[1] Now you might ask, “Why is Norway the happiest place on earth?” after reading on Forbes that Norway is in the midst of killing their economy by withdrawing $25.2 billion from their $820 billion sovereign wealth fund.[2] Well, BBC states that to determine the happiest and saddest countries in the world, they mainly focus on one question when asking over 1,000 people from each country every year, “Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?” They found that the average number for Norway was 7.54 compared to the saddest country, Central African Republic, at a 2.69. However, BBC also focuses on other factors such as GDP, life expectancy, liberty, generosity, and amount of corruption.1

To Aristotle, happiness is one of the most fundamental goals in life. He notes in Nicomachean Ethics that “happiness is an exercise of the vital faculties in accordance with perfect virtue or excellence.” However, he states that by excellence he means of soul because “for happiness we take to be an activity of the soul.” To Aristotle, money does not always equal happiness. He says that a liberal man will need wealth, but a courageous man will need strength. Similarly stating, “As for riches and the other things which men call good and desirable, whether we have them in abundance, or are lacking in them—so far as eternal happiness is concerned—it makes no difference.”[3] Which is why even though Norway accumulates a lesser GDP Nominal compared to the United States, at $18.56 trillion, Norway is a much happier country overall in comparison to countries with much higher GDPs, such as China, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

In his concluding statements about happiness, Aristotle expresses, “Happiness, then, extends just so far as contemplation, and the more contemplation the more happiness is there in a life, — not accidentally, but as a necessary accompaniment of the contemplation; for contemplation is precious in itself.”3 Norwegians contemplate on the fact that all that the citizens do is an investment into making their country better. For example, college in Norway is free. Why? Because the government sees that the education is not a privilege, but it is an investment in the good of their country. Norway values the factors that contribute to happiness; they view happiness in a similar way as Aristotle, the ultimate end goal in life.



[1] “Happiness report: Norway is the happiest place on Earth.” BBC News. March 20, 2017. Accessed May 02, 2017.

[2] Worstall, Tim. “Norway Risks Killing Its Own Economy.” Forbes. October 07, 2015. Accessed May 02, 2017.

[3] Aristotle, W. D. Ross, and Lesley Brown. 2009. The Nicomachean ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



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