In Pursuit of Happiness
How to be Happy

Preface

From a rickshaw driver in India to a heart surgeon in the U.S, human beings the world over just want to be happy. Happiness can come in the form of your favourite pair of socks, from burying your nose in a voluptuous rose to speeding down route 66 on a vintage motorbike. If happiness came as an ice cream it would come in a variety of flavours with a different scoop for everyone, some enjoy sprinkles, others mouths would water at the pouring of the chocolate sauce. There are so many flavours that can hit the spot, so many ways we can be happy. We may choose different flavours but we are still choosing ice cream.



Words: Michelle Porter

Happiness may be many things to different people and the route to happiness is often subjective. Joy can be found in small things. These moments brighten our day and looking for as many as possible is a subjective approach to happiness, finding the things that make you smile and cause your heart to beat faster. These bite-size morsels of happiness can be joyous and fun but for a deeper sense of well-being there are universal factors that can help us share the love. The World Happiness report have been looking into the recipe for well-being and have identified universal factors that lead to national happiness. One of the best ways to be happy is to surround yourself with people you love, friends and relatives in a strong community and another is to be generous. Countries that put a high emphasis on social relationships are happier places to live.

Denmark often tops the global charts and it is not surprising to find that as a society Denmark has a high level of social cohesion. They have low-income inequality and express high levels of generosity through volunteering. Scientific Studies have shown that generosity has a large impact on happiness. In fact, when people recall giving a gift the part of the brain that relates to happiness is far more active than when they recall receiving one, scientific proof of the old saying 'it's better to give than to receive'.

The Danes recognise that happiness is not simply about one's own pursuit of happiness but a quest for collective happiness where generosity, trust and social relationships are more important than what you own. Although one of the darkest countries on the planet, the Danes make a concerted effort to live well, by appreciating the simple things in life and they have a specific word for it Hygge (pronounced hue-gah), even the sound of it makes you want to snuggle up. Hygge is commonly translated as cosy, pulling the curtains, lighting the candles and indulging in good coffee and food with special friends. But Hygge is also about creating those intimate moments with family and friends and the comfort and security that brings. Hygge can also be a bike ride with friends in the fresh air, the simple pleasures in life that lead to a healthier and happier life.

What they, like the Danish embrace is a positive way of living, a way that embodies the concept that happy people belong to a happy society. Happiness is not keeping up with the Jones' but inviting them round for a simple supper, lighting some candles and chatting about the little things and the bigger things that matter. It's about feeling supported when times are hard and being generous when these hard times hit others. By giving a well-chosen gift or a simple card containing a heartfelt message, for example, we are telling people we know what they like, what they need because we listen and we care. A little bit of Hygge or a bear hug, the little things are signs of something far greater and get us through the bad times, universally these things make us happier.

Another Scandinavian country that often tops the global happiness charts is a cold, dark country that suffered bankruptcy in 2008. Despite the long, dark nights, very few Icelandic people suffer from seasonally affected disorder and they have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world. A healthy lifestyle is a contributory factor to happiness and their high intake of omega three oils, fresh fish and well-fed livestock all contribute to their good physical and mental health. Their landscape is breathtaking and they look after it, low pollution also yields healthier food. Not only do they feed the body, they nourish the mind and soul and are vicarious readers. They read more books per capita than any other country in the world and a quarter of their population work in the arts.

What they, like the Danish embrace is a positive way of living, a way that embodies the concept that happy people belong to a happy society. Happiness is not keeping up with the Jones' but inviting them round for a simple supper, lighting some candles and chatting about the little things and the bigger things that matter. It's about feeling supported when times are hard and being generous when these hard times hit others. By giving a well-chosen gift or a simple card containing a heartfelt message, for example, we are telling people we know what they like, what they need because we listen and we care. A little bit of Hygge or a bear hug, the little things are signs of something far greater and get us through the bad times, universally these things make us happier.

Connor McNally

Author: Connor McNally

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