+
upworthy
Health

Danes have the best work-life balance in the world thanks to these 3 important beliefs.

Maybe the rest of us could learn from them.

Danes have the best work-life balance in the world thanks to these 3 important beliefs.


By the end of her first week living in Denmark, Helen Russell was worried about her husband's brand-new job.

She explained in an article she wrote for Stylist that she was sure Lego had fired him already because he kept coming home early.

Originally from the U.K., Russell was used to her home country's work customs, where late nights and long hours were worn as a badge of honor. She felt surprised and embarrassed when her husband first came home from work in the early afternoon — she'd hardly started her own day of freelance writing.


The trend continued, she said, and by Friday, her husband was strolling through the door as early as 2:30 p.m. But it wasn't a reflection of his work ethic. It turns out, in Denmark, working fewer hours is ... just what people do.

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.

This healthy work-life balance is such a crucial part of Danish culture that they even boast about it on the country's official website.

It's a major point of pride for Denmark, which has a reputation for being the happiest country in the world. The government encourages a 37-hour workweek, a designated lunch break, a minimum five weeks of paid vacation, extended and paid parental leave, and flexible schedules with the option to work from home as well as incentives for child care. On average, Danes spend less than one-third of their time working — and yet, they're still more productive than most of the European Union or the United States.

You might be thinking, "What's the catch?" But the truth is that Danish values and national attitudes are behind the country's commitment to work-life balance.

Photo by Jon Olav Nesvold/AFP/Getty Images.

1. Workers in Denmark are trusted to deliver on whatever their job is.

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.

By and large, people want to work. They want to do a good job. But many people wrongly assume that others are inherently lazy, that work is a reflection of our moral values, and that time equals productivity. (But, in fact, a lot of jobs that exist today aren't even measurably productive.)

So what if, instead of finding ways to pass the time until the clock hits 5 p.m., we just did what we had to do for work and then called it a day? What if you were actually empowered to take personal responsibility into your own hands rather than relying on the threats of a manager lurking in the corner making sure you put in the physical time at a desk?

That's what Denmark does. As Russell writes that one of her Danish friends explained to her, "Come Cinderella hour — home time — everyone from the receptionist to the CEO goes. We're trusted to do a good job; do our work; then leave." Maybe that's how they get so much stuff done?

2. Family is obviously important, but in Danish culture, people are actually encouraged to value their families — and everyone else respects it.

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.


According to Russell's experience, it's totally normal for people in Denmark to list their child care pickups and other family business in their digital calendars for others to see. There shouldn't be any shame in prioritizing family. (And if you don't have a family? You deserve the same freedom.) Also in Denmark, child care is tax-deductible, and the state provides maid services and pensions for the elderly.

This emphasis on family extends to the country's educational approach as well. Rather than using an exam-based schooling system, Denmark is "hugely child-centered and this leads to well-rounded and enthusiastic children," according to teacher Stephanie Lambert, another transplant from Britain.

The country's focus on fewer working hours frees up educators to invest in the personalized needs of students as individuals rather than stressing about uniform success. And as a result, Danish children have these same values instilled in them from a young age. It's ingrained in them by the time they join the workforce, and they'll pass these same values down.

3. Danes also recognize work and play shouldn't be at odds with one another. Everyone benefits from a little R and R — workers and bosses.

Photo by William West/AFP/Getty Images.

More work means more stress, which means more health problems and less getting done. Maybe that's one reason why the Danes spend so much less on health care?

Studies have shown vacations make our brains more creative, which is why vacation days should not be treated as some rare commodity, hoarded like gold for some far-future payoff, or used to cover for other personal matters. People in Denmark receive a minimum five weeks of paid vacation time, and they actually use it — without any fear of shame or social stigma.

It's a simple truth that many Danes recognize, from day laborers to high-end executives: Happier workers are better workers. "We think everyone has a right to be respected, from a CEO to a janitor," Danish psychotherapist Iben Sandahl told The Local. "We try to teach our children to focus on the good in themselves and others rather than on status or labels."

Denmark's model of work-life balance is proof that time is not the same as productivity, and treating people well is actually better for everyone.


Granted, there are some people who think the Danish secret to happiness is actually just lowered expectations. Yet, being humble, realistic, and appreciative isn't such a bad thing.

Either way, the Danes have proven a healthy moderation of labor and leisure is not only possible, but it's measurably preferable to forcing people to live to work and work themselves to death. Maybe it's time the rest of us followed their example.


This article originally appeared on November 23, 2016





When people move in and refuse to move out, what do you do?

Squatters' rights laws are some of the most bizarrely misused legal realities we have, and something no one seems to have a good answer for. Most of us have heard stories of someone moving into a vacant home and just living there, without anyone's permission and without paying rent, and somehow this is a legal question mark until the courts sort it out.

According to The National Desk, squatters' rights are a carryover from British property law and were created to ensure that abandoned property could be used and to protect occupants from being kicked out without proper notice. It should go without saying that squatter law isn't meant to allow someone to just take over someone else's property, but sometimes that's exactly what happens.

It's what happend to Flash Shelton's mother when she put her house up for rent after her husband passed away. A woman contacted her with interest in the property, only she wanted to do repairs and look after the home instead of paying rent. Before anyone knew it, she had furniture delivered (which she later said was accidental) and set up camp, despite Shelton's mom not agreeing to the arrangement.

Keep ReadingShow less
@katiebrookenewton/TikTok

Best doorbell camera footage ever.

Doorbell cameras offer us candid glimpses into the best and worst parts of humanity. Everything from package theft to funny off-the-cuff-rants to sagely life advice has been captured and shared to remind us that life is indeed neither fully good nor bad.

Luckily, this doorbell cam story definitely falls into the heartwarming, feel-good category.

A compilation video posted to TikTok by a woman named Katie Brooke Newton shows her neighbors offering cute pregnancy updates every time they pass by her apartment. And, as one viewer aptly noted, it gives perfect “This is Us” vibes.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.

As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

7 tips for capturing your true, beautiful self in photos

It's not vain to want people to see the real you in pictures.

Every human being has their own unique beauty that cameras don't always capture.

One of the weirder things about being a human is that we rarely ever get to see our actual selves. Even if we look into a mirror, we're seeing a backward reflection, a reverse image, not what other people see. (Hence the popularity of the "true mirror," which sometimes makes people cry when they see what they really look like.)

Photos certainly don't help. All it takes is one bad angle, some off lighting, a distorting camera lens or an unflattering split-second facial expression to have us wondering, "OMG is that what I really look like?"

No, it's not. Because the truth is, beauty and body image messaging aside, we are all uniquely gorgeous in our own way and photos rarely captures our true essence. Some of that can't be helped, but there are ways we can get closer to that goal. After all, photographs of us will last long beyond our bodies, so wouldn't it be nice if we could confidently say to our descendants, "Yeah, that was me, in all my human glory"?

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

15 women reveal the 'underrated' reasons why they left their significant others

Modern society has created new reasons for people to break up.

Why are women breaking up with men these days?

When people are ready to leave a relationship, many feel pressure to have a compelling reason. There are reasons that no one will disagree with, such as a partner's abuse, infidelity, or trouble getting along with family.

But what if you just aren’t feeling the relationship anymore, or don’t think they appreciate all you have to offer? Those can be perfectly fine reasons, too. It's totally fine to break up with someone over reasons that some may find trivial.

It’s your life; you can’t live it with your chosen people.

A Reddit user named Grand_Gate_8836 asked the AskWomen forum, “What is a very underrated reason for breaking up with your significant other?” and many women shared that they broke up with their partners because they just weren’t feeling the relationship. Others brought up reasons that people may not have had in the past, such as pornography addiction, immaturity and spending too much time playing video games.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

People say clouds look different these days. It's not suspicious — it's climate change.

Here's the scoop on why you might be seeing more people talking about clouds and conspiracies.

Photos by Cristina Anne Costello on Unsplash (left) and Mark Valentine on Unsplash (right)

People say they used to see more fluffy cumulus clouds against a brighter blue sky. They may not be wrong.

Have you noticed that clouds are looking a bit different than you remember them when you were younger? Less fluffy and more wispy? Fewer billowing clouds against a bold, blue sky and more washed out skies with see-through cloud patterns?

There have always been different kinds of clouds, of course, but people are remarking that something seems to have changed, which has led to all kinds of conspiracy theories. Combined with the debunked theories about contrails being "chemtrails," a whole new wave of suspicions about our skies is taking hold. Some people say it's all in their heads, but others are insistent that the sky just isn't the same.

There is a scientific explanation for why clouds might actually be changing, but not one that conspiracy-minded folks are going to like. It's most likely due to climate change, as climate scientists predicted that these cloud changes would be coming years ago.

Keep ReadingShow less