Friday, March 30, 2018

'Intentional Intimacy' Fuels Denmark's Happiness


The new World Happiness Report again ranks Denmark among the top three happiest of 155 countries surveyed – a distinction that the country has earned for seven consecutive years.

The U.S., on the other hand, ranked 18th in this year’s World Happiness Report, a four-spot drop from last year’s report.

Denmark’s place among the world’s happiest countries is consistent with many other national surveys of happiness (or, as psychologists call it, “subjective well-being”).

... Depending on the scope and purpose of the research, happiness is often measured using objective indicators (data on crime, income, civic engagement and health) and subjective methods, such as asking people how frequently they experience positive and negative emotions.

... Yes, Danes have a stable government, low levels of public corruption, and access to high-quality education and health care. The country does have the the highest taxes in the world, but the vast majority of Danes happily pay: They believe higher taxes can create a better society.

... Perhaps most importantly, however, they value a cultural construct called “hygge” (pronounced hʊɡə).

...Hygge is sometimes translated as “cozy,” but a better definition of hygge is “intentional intimacy,” which can happen when you have safe, balanced and harmonious shared experiences. A cup of coffee with a friend in front of a fireplace might qualify, as could a summer picnic in the park.

A family might have a hygge evening that entails board games and treats, or friends might get together for a casual dinner with dimmed lighting, good food and easygoing fun. Spaces can also be described as hyggelige (“Your new house is so hyggeligt”) and a common way of telling a host thank you after a dinner is to say that it was hyggeligt (meaning, we had a good time). Most Danish social events are expected to be hyggelige, so it would be a harsh critique to say that a party or dinner wasn’t hyggelige.

Research on hygge has found that in Denmark, it’s integral to people’s sense of well-being. It acts as a buffer against stress, while also creating a space to build camaraderie. In a highly individualized country like Denmark, hygge can promote egalitarianism and strengthen trust.

---Read the full article "Why Denmark Dominates the World Happiness Report Rankings Year After Year"


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