In 2009, an American expat penned a novel called Hausfrau inspired by her life in Switzerland. It's not the typical tale of cheesy fondue, chocolate and stunning mountain views from the glossy brochures. No, this is a story of deep-seated depression, loneliness, and isolation - themes that are all too familiar to many female expats. It's far from a happy read. When it caught the attention of Swiss press, it sparked headlines like:

  • "Suffering expat women in Switzerland"
  • "Are We Really That Bad toward Expats in Switzerland?”
  • “Expat women 'often depressed'
  • “Expats’ love-hate relationship with Switzerland continues”
  • “Switzerland’s high wages attract expats, but why are many disappointed with daily life?”
  • “Expats in Switzerland like the safety but not the locals”

But, new scientific study on happiness (that dates back to 1938) shows that just one factor can make or break the expat experience.

So, let's explore this a little more now. Time to change into your "private detective" outfit.

The paradox of happiness for female expats in Switzerland by diving into the science behind what determines human joy. But before we do that, let me take a minute to address something seemingly unrelated...

Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Back in the 1800s, an Italian economist Alfredo Pareto noticed that only 20% of the population owned roughly 80% of the land in Italy. This principle later gained popularity through books like "The 80/20 Principle," which revealed that this universal law is as powerful as gravity.

For example, roughly 20% of the road has usually more than 80% of the damage, while only 20% of salespeople generate 80% of revenue. Figures may vary a bit. The critical point is that a few actions can produce most of the outcomes, whether positive or negative.

But here's where it gets exciting: G. Keller took this idea to the next level in his NY TIMES bestseller, "The One Thing," with the concept of "Extreme 80/20." When you keep reducing (20% of the already 20%, and then 20% of those 20%) you will arrive at one thing. THE ONE THING...

Keller's experience illustrates this point. When he wanted to break into a new market as a leading expert, his team identified around 100 things he could do. They whittled it down to 25, then 5, and finally, to the one thing. After much debate, they concluded that writing a book was the one thing that would (probably) make, the most significant impact. And it did - in the real estate market - establishing Keller as an expert almost overnight.

Keller emphasizes that while many things may be important, there is always one thing that will bring back disproportionate results. And happiness for expats is no exception.

The point here isn't about starting a business, it's about understanding that 'feeling at home' in Switzerland is about one crucial skill. (More about that in a sec.) 

And the way we get that skill is through another one thing...

To establish the one thing for expats in Switzerland we might use a bit of help from Dr. Waldinger who in 2015, gave a TEDx Talk in a little elementary school auditorium. Much to his surprise, it became one of the ten most viewed talks in the history of TED.

Amassing more than 20,000,000 views...

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