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The Little Book of Lykke

The Danish Search for the World's Happiest People

By Meik Wiking
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking

The Little Book of Lykke (2017) is a treasure trove of useful tips and Scandinavian secrets for how to live a happier life. It reveals many fundamental facts that contribute to human happiness and shows how Danish society has fused them into everyday life. Author Meik Wiking also demonstrates how you can take these lessons and start incorporating them into your life, no matter where you live.

Key idea 1 of 8

A sense of community and spending time with others, rather than online, is essential to happiness.

Every once in a while, a list comes out that ranks the happiest places in the world, and there’s one place that often takes the top spot: Denmark. But what is it that makes the Danes so happy?

According to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, one of the determining factors is a country’s sense of community and that people are united around a common good. When people feel like their fellow citizens have each other’s back, it allows them to rest easier and happier, especially in difficult times.

In 2014, a Gallup poll showed that nine out of ten Danes are happy to pay taxes, even though the average national income tax rate is 45 percent. And for those who earn over €61,500, the rate is a whopping 52 percent.

The reason Danes are so willing to pay is because it’s understood that the money is going toward the common good. It acts as a safety net; all taxpayers know they’ll be taken care of if they get sick or lose their job.

Along these lines, Denmark was the first nation to establish bofælleskaber, which translates to “living communities” in English. These are voluntary cohousing arrangements where residents and families establish their own self-sufficient neighborhoods.

The first bofællesskab appeared after writer Bodil Graae wrote an influential editorial, entitled “Children Should Have 100 Parents.” The article was a glowing endorsement of communal living, and it inspired a group of families to create Sætterdammen, a community in Hillerød, just north of Copenhagen.

Fast-forward to 2017, and around 50,000 Danes have joined cohousing communities, with hundreds more forming similar arrangements around Europe and America.

However, while a sense of community is shown to increase happiness, there’s also happiness to be found in disconnecting from the virtual world.

In 2015, the Happiness Research Institute conducted an experiment that monitored participants as they stayed away from Facebook for a full week. Sure enough, those taking part reported a reduction in loneliness and significantly higher levels of satisfaction in life.

Of course, stepping away from Facebook is easier said than done. But you can improve your chances of successfully cutting back by getting your friends and family on board with your plan. By joining forces and agreeing upon tech-free periods during specific days of the week or certain hours of the day, you’ll ensure that those around you will also be keeping their gadgets out of sight and getting the most out of life – together.

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