Be Happy, It’s Happiness Day

Denmark was de-throned this past Monday. It is no longer the happiest country in the world :(

To be fair though, finishing 2nd place — only 0.02 off Norway’s top happiness score — ain’t that bad. We’re certain that the Danes all are still quite hygge (Danish for cozy) :)

TBH, crowning a country as the happiest in the world is kinda silly. For starters, the top five nations in the 2017 World Happiness Report were separated by only 0.07 points. Plus, we’re certain that life in general is just grand in all those places.

We believe that, regardless of how your fellow countrymen/women’s level of happy is indexed, real happiness starts at the most basic level. With you.

Ah, the greatest question of all

It’s a timeless question that has been pondered by great minds for millennia: what is happiness?

Thanks to social psychologist, Dr. Jonathan Haidt, we might be a little closer to the answer. His 2006 book, The Happiness Hypothesis, has attempted to demystify what it takes to bring us closer to being happy.

Teaser alert: we did the reading for you, and we’re going to share his findings on how to be happy. (Keep in mind Haidt’s book is over 240 pages of thorough psychological analysis, so we’ll give it our best shot.)

At its core, happiness comes from between. Go on…

As Haidt explains, “people are like plants. […] You can’t a fix a plant; you can only give it right conditions — water, sun, and soil — and then wait. It will do the rest.”

He goes on to explain that the best conditions for humans to be happy are love and work. Love because we are inherently ultrasocial creatures, so we need lots of human attachments. And work because it allows us to pursue goals, stay engaged and find moments of flow.

People who see their work as a way to contribute to something greater than themselves are generally quite happy. They’re the type of person who “would continue to work, perhaps even without pay.” Going a little deeper, they make the most of their inherent strengths everyday at work. These are the folks who refer to their work as their “calling.”

The right type of love and work allow us to be drawn outside of ourselves and become further connected with others and with projects bigger than ourselves.

So, to be happy is to get the “between” part right. It means we should be aiming to get the right relationships between us and others, between us and our work, and between us and something the larger than us. In practice, we can admit that this weekly email is our “larger than us” project.

If you have a chance, pick it up Haidt’s book. Honestly, it’s a great read. Very well-written and very relatable.

In the meantime, brace yourselves for the Norwegian marketing and brand machine to be selling us all on its Northern Lights. (Apparently, the best in the world 🌠)

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