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Happy as a Dane: 10 Secrets of the Happiest People in the World
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Happy as a Dane: 10 Secrets of the Happiest People in the World

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  390 ratings  ·  68 reviews

This international bestseller shows why the Danes are happy and how we can be, too.

For decades Denmark has ranked at the top of the world’s happiness surveys. How is it that these 5.6 million Danes are so content when they live in a country that is dark and cold nine months of the year and where income taxes are at almost 60 percent? At a time when talk across the Western

Kindle Edition, 142 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published April 30th 2014)
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3.43  · 
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 ·  390 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jan 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor
3.5 I love reading about the way people live in other countries, how they think, what they believe. This was a relatively short book, but packed full of information. Why are they so happy? So much so that this country is rated first in the world.

After reading, and I enjoyed the layout of this book, I think I live in the wrong country. The Danes seem to exemplify all of the characteristics I try to follow, that I believe. Integrity, honesty, togetherness, importance of family time and more. Remin
Although this book is about Danish societal values, the 10 “secret” principles can also be applied to one’s personal life to become more content. Author Rydahl grew up in Denmark and moved to Paris at age 18 to pursue her dream career. Raised to be self-reliant, practical, and to appreciate others, she tried several jobs before finding her ideal career and lifestyle. Her parents, in typical Danish fashion, did not interfere with her decisions and encouraged her to become the person that she want ...more
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
The 3rd one I have read on this topic (what can I say? It is interesting... usually), this rates the lowest.

Her list of reasons Danes rate as happy rings true (though I don't see that they were in any way "secrets"). So there is that. And she tries to be evenhanded (though this sometimes detracts from the points she is trying to make).

However, I had a hard time relegating the fact that the author left as soon as she could and chooses to live somewhere else - yes, she has legitimate reasons, but
Madeleine (Top Shelf Text)
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I found this book interesting, but after reading I felt it would be better off as a long article instead. The 10 secrets to Danish-esque happiness are summarized in the back of the book, so it would have been just as effective to read just that summary rather than the whole book.
Madelyn Flammia
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting perspective on Danish culture and why the Danes are so happy. Very enjoyable.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
I am interested in this topic, but this book, despite being only around 130 pages, was slow-going. The writing was dry, the material was not particularly interesting, and it offered no new insights into the topic. Also, although Danish, the author left the country decades ago and has chosen to live in France, which sort of undermines the message. Try The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell instead. It covers the same ground, but with some personality.
Peter Herrmann
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
All her points make sense. But many of them are easier said than done. For instance, in the conclusion, 'know yourself.' I'm 72 years old but still haven't quite figured that one out. Have to wonder if I'd be happier having been born and raised in Denmark. But as the author herself admits, not every Dane is necessarily happy.
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Straightforward, common-sense advice on living a good life!
Emily DeLuca
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ibrahim Niftiyev
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot of things from this book. On one hand, it encourages you to change your approach to the welfare state, on the other hand, it really gives vivid examples about the particular cases related to the discussion object. Reading about Denmark and arguing about the universally human stuff was enjoyable. The style is clear and straightforward. I would say, it is an important book for developing countries because the author explains various things which are extremely important to the devel ...more
Shari Suarez
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Denmark has been called the happiest place in the world. Malene Rydahl discusses why Danish people are so happy. She discusses the issues of trust, work-life balance, taxes and education and provides insight into the Danish mind-set. She also provides tips to make your life happier. It was very enjoyable and a quick read.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a tedious read, and didn't feel I learnt anything from the book. It was based on anecdotes from the author, who left Denmark as a teenager.

I received the book as a Goodreads giveaway.
🎶 If I only were a Dane...
Jun 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
great idea. interesting bits. but too many statistics.
a bit painful to finish.
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-language
Congratulations Malene Rydahl for "Happy as a Dane". This quasi-light read is delightful. Each of these ten secrets could be a feature film in themselves. May everyone be Happy as a Dane unlocking these secrets and any others they might bring to light.

W.W. Norton & Company - Quad graphics - Chris Welch and Lauren Abbate have produced a cheery readable copy. May everyone have the opportunity and expertise to enjoy Heureux comme un Danois: les 10 clés du bonheur one day also.

Félicitations Ma
I am not sure what to make of this book because the contradictions ( though the author does her best to explain them away ) are so striking.

She gives 10 reasons why the Danes are the happiest people on earth, yet there are so many things that they do on a regular basis that perhaps they pass off as being 'happy' but are certainly not 'healthy' and nothing to be happy or brag about.

Her country's citizens have the highest rates of suicide, anti-depressant taking, one nite stands, teen alcoholics (
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book has well illustrated the fact that whether one feels happy depends a lot on the positive attributes a person has and the collective mindset of a nation. Denmark tops the list of many happiness surveys and the author attempts to list the reasons in an objective way.
The ten secrets according to the author are:
1. trust
2. education that nurtures everyone, not just to churn out elites
3. freedom and independence
4. equal opportunities
5. realistic expectations
6. respect for others and unity
Mar 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
I liked the idea of this book, but didn't like the book at all. I didn't like the author's pompous and uninteresting writing style, or some of the conclusions she tries to draw. For example, she boasts about the Danish being so happy, but yet her parents divorced (a sign of unhappiness) and she couldn't wait to leave Denmark. Further, I wanted to puke at her words about the American Dream. She obviously doesn't understand what the American Dream means. People from around the world move to Americ ...more
Sandy Sopko
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A 3.5. This book about the happiness of Danes offers lots of research findings, and I very much enjoyed making the comparisons (how does the U.S. rank in the category/concept being discussed), rather than focus on the how-tos. It is frustrating to think that the social programs that allow Danes to feel so secure will never happen in the U.S. because trust of others is so low here. I also have a strong sense of foreboding for our American way of life now that the politicians in power are strippin ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, giveaway
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (and this is why it will be much longer than usual!).

After living in Denmark and having fallen in love with the country, this is just one of the books I read on Danish happiness, hygge and similar topics. However, this is not the one I will suggest to friends, despite being one of the better documented. In fact, while the strength of the book lies in its solid foundation, the author often just throws figures at the reade
I am fascinated by Scandinavian countries and how "happy" they are. I picked this book up because I wanted to know more about hygge. While hygge is just barely touched on here, it is part of what makes Danish people so happy and content. The author breaks down what makes Danes happy as a culture into 10 points: trust, education, freedom and independence, equal opportunity, realistic expectations, solidarity and respect for others, work-life balance, relationship to money, modesty, and gender equ ...more
Natalie Frausell
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was a lot of numbers and statistics and I was going to rate it lower but the 8th chapter started with a story. A story about a man who works just enough so he can spend time with his family and no more. A businessman tries to explain to him how he could work more to be rich, so that he would have lots of money and could retire and spend lots of time with his family. It was a short story about how money is not the correlation to happiness and if this story wasn’t in the book I would hav ...more
Kim Lanza
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
While I am in love with getting books electronically from my library, I am reminded that my slow pace with nonfiction is not conducive to the poof it disappears after two weeks condition. I read most of it and am fascinated by thinking about how culture translates into how you interact with the world and ultimately your happiness. It is disconcerting how many of the tenets of Danish society are radically different from the US. However, it illuminates some elements to consider when evaluating per ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Learned some interesting things about the Danish school system, but they're so utterly Danish there's almost no possibility of transfer to the US or anywhere else (which was the case for most of the items on this listicle that somehow is but isn't really a book). The various statistics shared are sometimes valuable, but would be infinitely more accessible in chart form, and the random personal stories are more often distracting than illuminating. I did very much like the font and the way the num ...more
Monica Fumarolo
Especially given the past few years we’ve had in America, I was interested in seeing how another country manages, what their version of “normal” is, how year after year Denmark is considered to have one of the happiest populations on the planet. The author breaks it down into ten attitudes/mindsets common in Danish culture, often backing them up with statistics and examples. Will my homeland be happier if we adopt all these for ourselves? I doubt it. However, this has given me some great food fo ...more
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: a-in-kailua
FYI an opposing viewpoint = The almost nearly perfect people : behind the myth of the Scandinavian utopia / Michael Booth.
To bad like a lot of non-USA countries, a person would have great difficulty becoming a citizen. It is a lot easier to feel a part of something when everyone looks like you, talks, acts, culture, homogeneous. Lots of interesting ideas. But seemed a little to exaggerated. I'll know more when I read an opposing viewpoint.
Sarah Elizabeth
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A fast interesting read about values the people of Denmark hold that lead to their country having a reputation, and self-report, of high levels of happiness. I learned something new about a country I don't know much about, and found myself reflecting on how these values are present in my own life, my community, and my country - and where they're not.
Albina Abdullayeva
A great positive book about life principles of Danish people. What they do and don't do to live peacefully with the world and themselves. I really like how the author made it clear that Danish people are the happiest because they make it happen, and the government gives them opportunity and support. I think in the future I would love to visit this country.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Short and quick read, read the conclusion if you dont have time - that serves as a wonderful summary to the whole book. While there are some statistics, a large part of the book is based on the author's perspective. Nonetheless, it provides idea and insight to the Danish way of life and their values.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it
A sample of 1

The antidotes were often examples from the author's lift. It sounds like she grew up in a great home with terrific parents. But the stories are not convincing. In that way it fell short.
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Malene Rydahl is born and raised in Denmark and has been based in Paris for the past nineteen years.

She is the author of the book “ heureux comme un danois” ( as happy as a Dane) published by Grasset in April 2014. For decades Denmark has ranked at the top the world’s happiness index. Interweaving personal anecdotes and careful research, her book steers clear of any preaching and tackles the osten