I’ll be blunt and start this post with this statement:
I never thought I’d buy this book!
I’ve seen these books in stores and told myself “wow… we must be really sad to come up with books about happiness…and who would buy them?” And after months, there I was in the same bookstore, purchasing my copy.
Genre: Non-Fiction/Self-Help | Publication Date: SEPT 2017 | Date Finished: 06 MAR 2019
Surveys named Denmark as the happiest country in the world and while practicing hygge is a factor contributing to the overall happiness of the Danes, but in my opinion, that’s on a personal level. There are other factors contributing to the overall happiness of the Danes. Wiking admitted that one of the main reasons why Denmark is doing well when it comes to International happiness surveys is because of the welfare state. To which I agree.
What is a welfare state?
- Google defined it as “a system whereby the state undertakes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, especially those in financial or social need, by means of grants, pensions, and other benefits.”
The government cares about the well being of the population. In Denmark, they are paying high taxes but the people don’t see it as “OMG! ang laki ng tax ko!” for them it’s investing in their society. It’s purchasing the quality of life where the state reduces the risk, uncertainty and anxiety of its citizens and in return, it prevents unhappiness. Not just for those who can afford, but for everyone.
Read my review on The Little Book of Hygge here.
They got Universal & Free Health Care, Free University education and relatively generous unemployment benefits and those, in particular, are very important for those who are not well-off. And while hygge is unique to the Danes, the welfare state is common with other Nordic countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. And that’s why if you’ll notice, the top ten countries on the happiness ranking are Nordic countries.
HIGH LEVEL OF TRUST
In this book, Meik Wiking mentioned that it’s common in Denmark to see strollers (with sleeping kids) parked outside coffee shops. The parents are confident enough to leave their kids outside while they grab some coffee. Sadly, this is one of the things that we don’ have in the Philippines. We don’t have that high level of trust when it comes to other people (at least in the Philippines, Manila to be exact). Truth is, we’re very suspicious because if you’re not careful, you can easily be a victim of a crime.
A successful society is one on which people have a high level of trust in each other – including family members, colleagues, friends, strangers and institutions such as government. Social trust spurs a sense of life satisfaction.
For example, texting in public transport, there’s a fear that someone might snatch your phone. Or being in a relatively safe place in the city, but a taxi driver can swindle you any time of the day! And now that we’re living in a country that’s one of the safest countries in the world, I had a full understanding of what Wiking is saying. Living in a place where you are assured that you’re safe; that you can go home or jog around the neighbourhood late at night; you can wear shorts without being cat-called and you can freely use your gadget in public without the fear of being snatched – it’s assuring. You feel safe and your mind is at peace.
The strong link between happiness and relationship was also discussed in his book. Studies suggest that having high levels of happiness leads to better social relationships. Remember that socialising is an important part of the hygge ritual. For the Danes, they need to have time with the family and friends. That’s also why they strongly practice work-life balance.
In most offices in Denmark, the employees leave early because most of them are picking up their kids from school. Let me also point out that the time you spend commuting has an impact on happiness, too. Alam na alam nating mag pinoy to! The daily EDSA traffic; the Friday pay-day traffic; Slow traffic in the morning and on your way home. So stressful! And by the time you get home, you have no energy to interact with your family anymore plus we spend way too much time with our gadgets, too. So again, PRESENCE.
the Danes spend less time on their screens and more time with real people.
If I were to sum up the essence of this book, I’ll come up with 5 points…
THE LITTLE BOOK OF LYKKE
1. They believe that more money does not mean you are happier.
2. Less social media, more time on real connection and relationships.
3. Less ambitions on materialistic stuff.
- Stop spending money on stuff that you don’t need to impress people.
4. Buy memories, not things.
5. Move more and make it part of your daily routine.
You can eat the sweets, but be sure to sweat it off later. Danes are not gym rats but on average, they are active for at least 5 hours per week. And majority of the population are biking!
We sit still at work, we stand still on the escalator, we walk through the doors that open automatically, we take the lift we drive to the gym to go to the train on the Stairmaster for an hour.
The irony, right? Weiking is trying to tell us that we can always include fitness in your daily lives and that’s not impossible. The simple way of taking the stairs than the escalator is a good start!
The Little Book of Lykke is very informative and enlightening, too. There are a lot of facts and I’ve found myself agreeing on the things that I’m reading. I also love the humour of the author.
About the Author
Meik Wiking is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, research associate for Denmark at the World Database of Happiness, and founding member of the Latin American Network for Wellbeing and Quality of Life Policies. He and his research have been featured in more than five hundred media outlets, including The Washington Post, BBC, Huffington Post, the Times (London), The Guardian, CBS, Monocle, the Atlantic, and PBS News Hour. He has spoken at TEDx, and his books have been translated into more than fifteen languages. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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