Be Hygge and Give Your Life a Lykke!


...such was the advice provided by one of the most eagerly expected guests of this year's Book World Prague, author of the bestselling titles Lykke and Hygge and at the same time director of the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute, Meik Wiking.

The Large Theatre, in which the meeting with the author was held, was filled to the brim and everybody was interested in receiving counsel on how to be happy. No wonder, since Meik Wiking claims to know the way. For many years he has researched happiness on scientific bases, he has established a specialised institute in Copenhagen to study and understand when and why are people happy, and has travelled the world to find the recipe for happiness. He shared his findings with the readers of his books Hygge, which in Danish describes a state of relaxed existence, and Lykke, which means happiness.

"When my father had died, and later also my mother, I had to think again about my life. I was thirty four and I had to ask myself if I was happy and if this was the way I wanted to live my life. What if I die young, like my parents did, and I only have a couple of years left? That was when I had quit my former job and started the Happiness Research Institute," Meik explained at the beginning of the debate with Czech readers. 

"Many people think that our offices at the Institute are full of puppies. I hate to disappoint you, but they are actually occupied by philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, and together we try to find answers to the question of how to measure and how to achieve happiness," Meik added. Apparently, Czech Republic only comes 21st in the list of countries according to happiness, while Denmark regularly features at the very top. We have a lot to learn. How do they manage to be happy, despite having to pay taxes amounting to almost fifty percent of their salaries? "If you ask the Danes whether or not they like to pay taxes, nine out of ten people will answer yes. Paying taxes actually brings a feeling of safety, security in life, and with it comes the feeling of happiness. Because we know that we get a lot in return for whatever we pay. We have great healthcare, our state even pays us to study at universities, we have numerous benefits that introduce more quality into our life and with it also more happiness," Meik explained Denmark's basic recipe for happiness. 

"Corruption is problematic. If I knew that the money I give to the state get lost along the way, I would definitely feel frustrated," he said, hitting the nail on the head by drawing attention to one of our most pressing social issues. Yes, we may be paying smaller taxes but maybe we wouldn't mind paying more if we knew for sure that this money would be returned to us in the form of improved living standards and social security. 

From this point Meik's meeting with his Czech readers adopted a merrier tone. The highly amicable Dane who rarely ceases to smile told the visitors to find a little time for happy moments, to enjoy, for example, a nice breakfast or have a candlelight dinner. Candles, believe it or not, scored as one of the most frequent "harbingers" of happiness in his research. For other instructions on how to achieve happiness you can read Meik's books, which have already achieved bestselling status in twenty eight countries. Hard to believe as it is, it appears that no matter how different we are in various parts of the world, we are made happy by very similar things. So browse through Hygge or Lykke, get reading and - be happy.