Of course, we all know that the Swiss prefer neutrality, but reminiscing our trip, we feel that this applies beyond politics. Neutrality seems their desired state of being. We needed to take a deep dive to find out why Switzerland is ranked as the fourth happiest country, so grab your scuba gear to get ready…
Diving below the Swiss surface.
Most Swiss you speak with aren’t very open at first glance. The high level of Dutch directness is nowhere to be found in Switzerland. Conversations are very polite, reserved and appear to stay at the surface. They act modest and humble. They can open up after a little while, even though for us the question remains how far they really opened up. We found out they put great value on perfection and harmony.
We’ve spoken to many expats comprising roughly 20% of today’s Swiss population, all of which told us that it’s challenging to become close friends with Swiss people. This has nothing to do with them not being nice. It’s just that the Swiss are mainly focused on themselves and harmony, seeing many external influences as a potential threat to their perfect country.
Beate – a fifty-five year old nurse from Germany, already lives in Zurich for over fifteen years. Yet she doesn’t have any Swiss friends here. According to her, it’s probably due to the geographical location, a small country surrounded by enormous snow topped peaks and their history. Switzerland is and has always been neutral. They act very protectively and you need to have a good reason for them to get interested in other peoples and countries business let alone integrated.
“I have the feeling that the Swiss hide a lot of things. Nature and infrastructure, everything is perfect. Seemingly, at the surface. But below that it’s different.”
Most expats create their own communities and aren’t bothered by the reserved nature of their Swiss counterparts. There is no tension, aversion or hatred felt, it’s just accepted that foreigners and Swiss inhabitants live their private lives separately.
Surrounded by amazing mountains and soaked in luxury
Besides the political stability, another reason why Switzerland is as ranked fourth happiest country in the World Happiness Index isdue to the financial welfare and excellent social support. With one of the most booming financial industries, the average Swiss life is pretty great and there is no need for worrying. Most people we met told us that a lot of people work to be happy, they are focused on their careers.
Joel, a Credit Suisse banker from Lucerne, explains to us that for most Swiss happiness is challenged by luxury problems because everything else is perfect. “In Switzerland, many people dress up in suits with big fancy watches trying to impress the rest. A few years ago I was also always looking for something new, something different, and constantly trying to impress others”. His advice is to stop showing your treasured possessions.
“Happiness is closer than you think, but you don’t achieve it by buying a new watch.”
Happiness is harmony. Harmony is happiness.
Wandering down the streets in Switzerland feels like an extremely perfect and happily narrated fairy tale. The one where all evil trolls are transformed into perfect citizens or locked up far away in the snow topped mountains.
From our experience, we can state that the average Swiss life provides plenty of opportunities to enhance Swiss happiness. The nature, the serenity, the politeness of the people and the well-organized infrastructure makes it hard to complain. The environmental circumstances are jealous-making. If it’s up to us, the recipe for Swiss Happiness will comprise ingredients as serenity, peace, harmony, nature and spend time with close friends and family.
Whereas the vividness and big smiles we usually link to happiness are less visible, on the surface the Swiss appear to do a good job finding their own harmonious way of being happy, all together.