I got this book and the first book of Meik Wiking’s “The Little book of Hygge” for Christmas and this week have finished the second book. This really is such a lovely little book which reminds us what is important to be happy and gives us an insight into how happiness is shown all around the world.
During the book he “takes us on a treasure hunt to unlock the doors to the good life. From how we spend our precious time, to how we relate to our neighbours and cook dinner, he gathers evidence, stories and tips from the very happiest corners of the planet”
I’m going to share with you some of favourite parts of the book and what I’ve learnt from it.
This is one of my favourite pages, I am a lover of social media to connect with family, with a sister in New York and a brother in Hong Kong not to mention family in 3 different counties in the UK it is simply the easiest way to share with them what we have been doing. Where my love ends is the endless stream of time wasting videos, the nonsense posts that friends of friends like that somehow end up clogging up your time line. Everyone has an opinion on social media, for some its about the amount of likes, shares, comments, others think its better not to post pictures of your children. Then there is the matter of how much we post, is twice a week too often? Which platform do we use? Is Instagram safer than Facebook because its private unless you accept the followers? Do people care how many years it was ago since they went for that picnic in the park? The amount of time spent on digital devices scrolling mindlessly through unimportant information really has risen to a crazy amount. But as you can see about its proven that people are happier when they don’t use Facebook!
I have now set myself a mental limit when on social media, if I don’t see something I want to connect with within about 10 seconds I close the app. I know scrolling mindlessly for half an hour won’t make me happy, it usually just makes me frustrated that I’ve just wasted all that time doing nothing when I could have been doing something.
Another way to prevent yourself from being sucked in to the “time stealers” are to use apps like the “Freedom” app which prevent you from using the internet for a period of time. Next time you find yourself well and truly stuck to that screen just think what else you could be doing, do you have long enough to read a chapter of that book you have been meaning to read? Or even just a few pages? Could you fit in a few burpees, for those fitness lovers out there! Write a meal plan for the week? Or if you must scroll, let it be through something productive. Can you say after 2 hours of looking at your phone you have planned Valentines day or researched cheap home make over ideas rather than simply gone up 52 levels on your latest game.
In this book Meik Wiking goes on to say that the richest countries are not necessarily the happiest and that we often look for happiness in all the wrong places. He says “I have yet to discover a more powerful force to explain human happiness than the fulfilment of our longing for love, friendship and community. So, people want to belong but they are not exactly sure how to make it happen.”
Five ways to plant a community Meik gives are;
1. Create a directory for your street or stairway. Knock on your neighbours doors or post a sign up sheet in their letter box saying you are creating a directory for those little emergencies. Do people know a good plumber, electrician, handyman? Add some questions like would they like their dog walking once in a while or are you prepared to look after their garden while they are away for two weeks in the summer. Who knows how to change a tyre or who owns a sewing machine?
2. Establish a book lending cupboard. A simple way to start conversation in your community is to create a mini library built on the take one leave one book principle. The library doesn’t have to be anything fancy just a few shelves with a few different books available for those who fancy trying them. I have a shed next to my house which isn’t locked so this could be somewhere I could leave books for my street, I just need to clear it of all the junk first! This is definitely on my list of things to try though.
3. Use the soft edges. Front gardens and porches are called the soft edges. Few people would dare come into your kitchen but if you are in your front garden you are more likely to start a conversation with your neighbours. The more your get to know your neighbours names and their stories the more noise from them ceases to be annoying.
4. Build a community garden. Your home may not offer any soft edges but there may be a strip of land in your neighbourhood that could be used to create a small community garden, a time tested way for you to not only grow a bunch of veggies but also for you to bring a sense of community.
5. Start a tool sharing programme. The average power drill is used for only a few minutes per year so there is no need for us all to have one, the same with hammers, screwdrivers not to mention leaf blowers and ladders. This is another good excuse to get to know your neighbours.
Another great idea is volunteering, you may be passionate about politics or love the outdoors in the UK the website do-it.org lists more than a million options and enables more than 200,000 people to donate their time every month.
If that isn’t your thing what about random acts of kindness? Here are 5 ideas of things you could do that are guaranteed to lift your mood and that of the person on the receiving end;
1. Leave a gift on someones doorstep.
2. Learn the name of the person on the front desk or someone else you see every day and greet them by name.
3. Make two lunches and give one away.
4. Talk to the shy person who is by themselves at a party or at the office.
5. Give someone a genuine compliment. Right now.
These are all so easy to implement and i’m planning on trying as many as I can in the next week, I will let you know how they go.
Now for something that has been brought to our attention by the media throughout the last year and continues to be a much talked about subject as it should be. When is the last time you asked someone how they were and actually listened and cared about the answer? I’m not just talking about
family but friends, colleagues, parents at the school gates. We are all in so much of a rush all of the time do we really even listen to each other much anymore? How many people do you know that you see on a daily basis and can say you know if they are ok or not? Mental health is still so often overlooked as a taboo subject and having worked with young people that had been through some extremely traumatic times I know that these experiences leave their mark and sometimes rear their head again later in life. The next time you hear someone is off work with depression instead of judging them think what circumstances could have brought this about. Is there anything you could do to help the next time you see them? Not everyone will want to talk about their problems openly but there is nothing wrong with them knowing that someone is there should they need it.
This book has really opened my eyes as to what can make you truly happy and how happiness can be found with what is around us and without many of the things people often associate with happiness in this modern world. Its a great read and has its place in my reading nook where my husband has actually started reading it and he is not a reader!
I’d love to hear what you think of it if you do decide to read it.
Thanks for reading