Home > Discussion Topics > Teaching and living in “The World’s Happiest (And Saddest) Countries” – According to Forbes

Teaching and living in “The World’s Happiest (And Saddest) Countries” – According to Forbes

According to this Forbes article, the top 10 happiest countries are: “Joining Norway and Australia in the top 10 are their neighbors Denmark, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand. Equally small and civilized Switzerland and the Netherlands are also up there. Rounding out the top 10 is the United States at 10th and Canada (sixth).” There are many international schools in most of these countries, offering many opportunities for international school teachers to live very “happy” lives, or so it would appear…

Imagine a beach, warm white sand, water blue and transparent, a nice cabin right by the water’s edge, maybe a nice cabana boy or girl, serving you cool drinks and then some… It’s like a picture perfect postcard, and it just might exist out there in the international school teaching world, all included, semi-secluded, your own private paradise. Happiness among happy people. Perhaps the happiest people of the world, living daily life happily.

Maybe you should scratch that, because according to the Legatum Prosperity Index of 2011 that place is so far from the description above, because that place is Norway; yes the place of cow bells, handball, snowy hills and cheese, the recipe for happiness. Or perhaps more accurate, Norway scored big in the combined ingredients that are: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.

So the people of Norway have a good economy (this of course is thanks to a Danish minister who gladly gave away the Danish oil, but then again according to rumor he was drunk so…). They have good ideas and know how to transform them to reality, and of course cash in. They have a government freed from scandal and corruption. They’re highly educated, have good health, feel safe and feel free. They’re social and solidarity. All combined a happy people.  Who wouldn’t want to live there and work at an international school there? There are currently 9 international schools listed in Norway on International School Community.

You really can’t disagree that those ingredients listed might make you happy, if you can cross check all of them, you’re successful, rich, and smart and have enough surplus to care about other people. But defining happiness is more than just looking at the bank account or how healthy you are. How about values that can’t exactly be calculated or an international community somewhere that is very warm and supportive to you living there?  What defines personal freedom and social capital? What’s the percentage of divorces? How often do you go to church? What about culture?  And for international school teachers, what about the amazing professional community at an international school somewhere (anywhere) that is very rewarding for you? Having an amazing professional community at your work can definitely make most teachers extremely happy no matter where you at living…you do spend most of your time at work (most of the time).

Besides the international school itself, if you have to move to another country would you look at the economy of that specific country or is it the more soft values? Are the happiest people really happy people, and does that guarantee happily ever after? Of course things aren’t that black and white, which of course makes list like the one mentioned above quite redundant. So what’s really point?

Is there anything to learn from a list like this Forbes’ article

It’s maybe just following that gut feeling, and try experiencing it yourself. Otherwise it’s like wanting to read a book and then watching the movie adaptation instead, it’s not your vision.

There are different definitions of happiness, from happiness being a sweet little puppy, delicious chocolate, so maybe it’s all in between, it’s education, it’s economy, it’s Ferris Wheels and ice cream on a Sunday, it’s love and freedom, it’s good ideas and sleeping late after New Year’s eve. Maybe it’s a cabin or the beach or a small wooden house in the Norwegian Alps? Maybe it’s the people you meet and the chances you take, experiencing life yourself, instead of being blindsided by some list.

These are the things we look for as international school teachers, and we are definitely looking for happiness in our lives, especially when we can be quite far away from old friends and family.

If you want to know what life is like working at an international school in the “Top 10” become a member of International School Community.  International School Community members represent the following international schools: The International School of Helsingborg, TASIS The American School in Switzerland, International School of Stavanger, Copenhagen International School, American School of the Hague and The British School of the Netherlands.

As a member you are able to send these members a private message and get the answers to the questions you may have about life as an international school teacher there. Networking made easy!

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