March 2, 2017
AMERICANS NEED TO COME UP WITH OUR OWN FORM OF HYGGE
Our culture seems to be on a never-ending search for happiness. Surveys show women reporting happiness levels at an all-time low, and advertisements continue to vie for filling the happy gap if we just buy this product, try this lifestyle, make this change.
It also shows in the books we’re buying. Comfortably sitting on the bestseller list right now is a book by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. The Little Book of Hygge offers insights into the “Danish secrets to happy living,” and we Americans are eating it up. Another recent book titled The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters may explain why. “Research shows that being fixated on happiness can actually make people feel lonely and unhappy,” author Emily Esfahani Smith said in a recent interview for Scientific American.
She continues: “The happiness frenzy distracts people from what really matters, which is leading a meaningful life. Human beings have a need for meaning. We’re creatures that seek meaning, make meaning, and yearn for meaning. The question is—how can we lead a meaningful life? The route to meaning lies in connecting and contributing to something bigger than yourself—and not in gratifying yourself and focusing on what you, yourself, need and want, as the happiness industry encourages us to do.”
If the Danish have figured out the better approach to happy living, it would seem that Americans need to come up with our own form of hygge. Fourteen years ago, I experienced a moment where the two concepts collided—hygge and the fruitless American search for happiness—and I haven’t forgotten it. On a transatlantic choir trip with a roommate in college, we made a stop in the Netherlands. We found ourselves in such a small town that we saw quaint farms and spacious fields with chickens from the bus window. Continue reading at Verily.