We all are striving for it and for some it might take a lifelong search: Happiness – The elixir of life, the inner light to shine bright and essence for well-being. I talked with Meik Wiking, author of the NY Times bestseller “The Little Book of Hygge” and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen about the secrets of happiness and what we can learn from the Danish way to live well.
In your book “The Little Book of Hygge” you write about the secrets of the Danish way to live well. For someone who has not read your book, could give a brief explanation of “HYGGE”?
Hygge is a feeling. A feeling of being in the right place. Peace and joy. Hygge can happen alone or together with people. It is a feeling of simply existing and in that very moment expecting nothing more. It is a very simple, peaceful way of happiness. It can happen anywhere and for every one.
We need to start talking about the things that truly matter…
The book was a huge success and a NY Times Bestseller. You have started a global conversation that has been picked up by international media like BBC and the Telegraph. Can you explain the success and the popularity of Hygge? Do you think you hit a nerve in our society with this conversation?
I think people need to know, that money, success and power are not the keys to happiness. Friends, social relations, family and a good health are. And we need to start talking about the things that truly matter. I think people will know this when they see it. And we hit that with the book.
“Money, success and power are not the keys to happiness. Friends, social relations, family and good health are.”
Denmark is a small country. Nevertheless, when it comes to happiness Denmark is consistently ranked among the happiest places in the world. It seems that you are doing something better than other industrialized nations, what can other countries learn form the Danes?
Trust. Trust it what makes a country into a society and a nation. And we need that. What is most important for happiness is social relations. And then we need to actually spend time with people get to know them and trust them to build happiness together. Danes trust each other. They trust the government and that just makes it a lot easier. We don’t drag each other to court and make a bit fuss about small things. We work things out with dialogue in stead. And that creates a lot of happiness. And then we have a social security system, where we don’t have to worry to be put on the street if we lose the job and we don’t have to pay for medical help. This also creates happy lives.
“TRUST it what makes a country into a society and a nation….We don’t drag each other to court and make a bit fuss about small things. “
You and your team evaluate data and a variety of indicators that play into our happiness, well-being and quality of life. According to your research, what is the most important ingredient for happiness?
The most important things are social relations and a good health. This you can read a lot more about in the World Happiness Reports .
In the past, exterior wealth has been rising. We have become richer, but not happier. Do you have an explanation for the decline of happiness in our modern society?
We stop trusting each other. No one leaves the house door unlocked anymore. That is a sign on the lack of trust. And then things get more difficult when we are strangers to each other. It will make us feel lonely and scared. And no amount of money or success can be the happiness that a close friend and a smile can bring us.
“No amount of money or success can be the happiness that a close friend and a smile can bring us.”
As the head of the Happiness Research Institute, do you fully master the art of happiness :)?
No ;) Like everyone else I am still learning. And so are the rest of the institute. But we try to live as we preach so to speak. And we are learning every day and getting happier together.
Thank you very much for this interview Mr. Wiking!