Happiness in general...

Well, let's be honest, it is something that we all strive for in life. So how do we achieve basic happiness?
  • Feeling happy?
Apparently the Danish people rank as the happiest nation. So how come Denmark, the land of very little sunlight for a large part of the year with a climate that can be really really  cold, have produced the happiest people?

The Danes call it Hygge. Loosely translated we might call it contentment, togetherness and coziness, intimacy or well-being.

It is hard to translate the word Hygge accurately into English or any other language, but I guess it is to be felt, rather than to be written and read.

It has very little to do with money and possessions... and a lot to do with environment and relationships. This I know to be true, because a lot of the clients I see have an awful lot of possessions and money, yet they are unhappy and in some circumstances, unhappy enough to feel that they do not want to continue living.

So how can we achieve the state of 'Happiness?

It is all about the right balance and combo of ingredients. Therapists have understood for ages that humans needs to obtain balance in various areas of their lives. Environment, relationships, self worth, health and an understanding of our position in the big wide world.
  • Relationships: ( belonging)
No doubt the right people are the most important part needed to achieve happiness. 
As a therapist I have come to understand that people become easily 'undone' when their relationships are poor.  Long long ago when we were back in our caves, we needed each other to survive. Someone to hunt while others cooked or reared children. A medicine man/woman to keep us well  ( knowing how to use nature to cure). A wise man that knew more than most or a warrior that could keep us safe. It was interdependence, and we formed strong bonds. Family would be a natural strong bond.

I see people in the counselling practice on a regular basis that have fallen apart when one of these bonds break through death, infidelity, mistrust, abuse...and much more. But when we have strong bonds, where love, respect and trust exsist, then we thrive.

The Danes make a lot of effort to make and keep these bonds.  They do so by spending time together, chatting, eating, playing together.
  • Home: (our cave)

The simple cozy factor. Expensive and precious is the wrong way to go.  How can you relax around an expensive items? How stressed would you be to see chocolate smudged on you designer throw? This does not mean go cheap and nasty. Just tasteful and replaceable without having to rob a bank!

Natural fabrics, wood and stone all add to the home Hygge factor for the Danes. Finding your own style is important, be it country cottage or modern apartment. What can you fill it with that make you 'feel good' and not related to price alone.
  • Ambience: (in tune with our needs)
Lighting so important to the cozy factor. No harsh lights  but lots of glowing. The Danish burn more candles than most nations and this warm light aids  relaxation.  
    • Fire: (survival)
    Man cannot survive without fire, and we all know the great pleasure of a warm glow, flickering flame and the smell of sweet apple wood burning.
    A place to toast crumpets and roast chestnuts or heat up marshmallows. Thank heavens there is little call for designer crumpets or nuts, but I expect you will find some excellent ones in Fortnam and Masons. :-)

    The fire is a place people gather around, and this means they are closer. If you toast goodies, you share, and all this adds to the 'feel good factor'... or you may just wish to warm your hands.
    • Food:(tickle our taste buds)
    Food plays apart in the whole experience. the joy of making food for others to enjoy and the pleasure of sharing and eating.

    We know , like fire, that food is essential for survival, so sharing with a group may well add to the sense of safety and relaxation. Food in the belly supply energy for life itself, and if it tasty and leaves us content...then that must be a very happy feeling indeed.
    • Nature: (bigger than us!)
    Nature is bigger than all of us and been around a long time. The change of the seasons  are amazing and the intricate balance of life on the planet is more complex than any computer programme. look on in awe and amazement...you belong here amongst all this. Open you eyes   and enjoy! 

    The Danes do...they appreciate the clear blue sky, the flowing rivers and the out door space, the room to roam and share activities. Yep, here we go again, the 'share' word.  However, it is so true. Hygge can be obtained through those long walks with friends and family. The Danish way of bringing up happy healthy children includes spending time with them rather than money on them.  kids have to muck in and help ( here we go...sharing again1).

    Times by the camp fire singing songs on a weekend when you have escaped to the cabin. O.K. no cabin in Luton maybe, but ever wondered why Rock Choir is so popular...shared hobby where people gather together and find joy in singing. So you might well favour  canoeing down a river, or a picnic...all outdoors and surrounded by nature and with people to share it with.

    So what if it rains, it's only water.
    • Clothes: (style and function)
    This might seem like an odd one but it does appear to be relevant, especially if you want to play outdoors. Cozy socks, wholly soft jumpers, comfy boots, hats and scarfs, waterproof snuggly jackets.

    In summer, those crisp cotton shirts or blouses, loose fitting gear to relax in.  Yes, yes, yes, we all like to dress up once in a while, but oh it feels good to kick of those heels or take of that tie and chill out in our 'sloppy Joes'. Not to be confused with the North American hamburger.

     Might as well start young....

    • Behaviours to others:
    Feeling good can be bound up in doing good. 'Paying it forward' as they say. Doing things for other's without expectation of getting anything back.  It has been proven through research that the people who strike the right balance between self care and care for others, seem to be the happiest. It improves self esteem, creates bonds and can strengthen relationships.

    Focus on 'We', rather than 'Me'.

    So time to call up the friends (or make some) bake a cake, light the fire and the candles, or if in summer, arrange that picnic, even if it is only in the garden, with a couple of old blankets from the charity shop thrown on the grass and food to share. Get together (even if it is only the two of you).

    Some important factors to remember when communicating: leave out the politics,  criticism or  judgement of other humans. leave the drama at the door, no gossiping, negativity and ditch the technology. Tablets and phone are the death of Hygge/happiness, as it is too isolating and takes you AWAY from others rather than connecting you to them.

     You can even  increase your happiness factor when on your own. Positive self talk for starters. Be your own best friend. Fresh air and nature...good for the mind and body. Try a new hobby. Make a cozy home, and have things that you like to see and touch, favourite tea in a nice mug. Supper on your lap, with your favourite film on or music playing...and don't forget to lights those candles.