Satisfaction with Life and Happiness in the U.S.

Kristine Barseghyan

Kristine Barseghyan, Ph.D. (ABD) Social Sciences

The phrase “I’d rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle,” now a catchphrase, belongs to a 20-year-old female contestant on a Chinese game show. For her, like for many of us, sadness in luxury is preferable over happiness in necessity. But when the conditions for happiness are that high, frustration with reality makes people unhappy. China is generally not a very happy nation — it finished in a low 93rd in the World Happiness Report published by the United Nations in September 2013.[i] In contrast, Denmark, which has the second most bicycles per capita (4,500,000 bicycles per 5,560,628 people, 80.1 percent of population cyclists)[ii], is the happiest nation in the world. BMW is not for everyone, but bicycles are.

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