The Happiest Countries According to the 2015 World Happiness Report

Switzerland's citizens are the happiest. And the United States clocks in at No. 15, just below Mexico and just above Brazil.

Yesterday, the 2015 World Happiness Report was published. This is the third such report done since 2012 that attempts to chart people's satisfaction with their lives in over 150 countries across the globe. Gallup polls of 1,000 people per country each year between 2012 and 2014 (so, ideally 3,000 people in total per country, but some countries missed a year) asked people to rate their lives on a scale from 1-10, which is then averaged nationally.

Each national "happiness bar" is made up of six factors. There's also a "Dystopia" variable that represents an imaginary country with the world’s least-happy people, so there's a base benchmark against which to measure the real countries. The other six factors—real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity—are things that can be tentatively measured and multiplied by an estimated coefficient for how much that factor would influence a given person's happiness.

The table showing these coefficients is difficult to make sense of without reading the rest of the report, but here's what it looks like:

The report, which you can read in full here [PDF], is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, and national statistics. In addition to ranking the countries, the report also describes how the measurement of something as subjective as happiness can and should be used as a way of assessing national progress. The goal is not just to inform but also to inspire reform.

"As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens," the report's editor, Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, told Science Daily. "We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first. Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises."

Above you can see the happiness rating for the first 53 countries. To see all 158, click through to the PDF above.

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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Instead of Taco Tuesday, Sweden Celebrates Taco Friday (or Taco Fredag)

ptpower, iStock via Getty Images
ptpower, iStock via Getty Images

If you think Swedish cuisine is limited to meatballs and herring, you've never celebrated Fredagsmys—the Swedish version of Taco Tuesday. The day, which translates to "cozy Fridays," is a chance for Swedes to get together with loved ones and eat comfort food at the end of a long week. And instead of indulging in more traditional Swedish fare, the Fredagsmys cuisine of choice is Tex-Mex.

Fredagsmys takes the already-Americanized taco and puts a Swedish spin on it. On Taco Fredag (Taco Friday), ingredients like tortillas, ground meat, peppers, and tomatoes are laid out smörgåsbord-style. The spread may also include some toppings that are rarely served with tacos outside of Scandinavia, such as yogurt, cucumber, peanuts, and pineapple. After assembling their meal, diners enjoy it in a cozy spot in front of the TV, ideally surrounded by pillows and candles.

The Swedish tradition of starting the weekend with a taco feast has only been around for a couple of decades. In the 1990s, the Swedish potato chip company OLW introduced the slogan “Now it’s cozy Friday time” into the national lexicon. Old El Paso capitalized on this concept with its own ad campaign showing Swedes how to assemble tacos at home. The Swedish spice company Santa Maria noticed the emerging trend and further popularized the idea of eating tacos on Fridays in its TV advertisements.

Tacos may be the food that's most closely associated with Fredagsmys today, but any quick junk food is appropriate for the occasion. Burgers and pizza are also popular items, as are candy, chips, and popcorn. The meal makes up just one part of the night: Settling in on the couch in pajamas to watch TV with loved ones is just as important as the food.

Making time for comforting indoor activities is a necessity in Sweden, where the weather is harsh and daylight is scarce for much of the year. The Danish do something similar with hygge, although tacos aren't an explicit part of that tradition.