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8 Apr

8 lessons in happiness from around the world

Author Helen Russel went travelling to uncover happiness secrets from around the world, and to find out what it means to live happy internationally. The common themes Helen Russel found were spending time with friends and family, time in nature, and resilience. In these uncertain times, that are impacting the world globally, it is important to remember that there are many concepts that are keeping people positive, together and happy all over the world.

Take a read of some of our favourites below; 

1. Iceland – Þetta reddast- “it will all work out.”

When faced with extreme difficulties, Icelanders maintain the belief that things will be okay in the end. No matter how big the problem, and in spite of the odds, things will be ok.

2. Japan – Wasi-Sabi – “the beauty of simplicity and acceptance.”

The view is centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. In Japan wrinkles on the face are a sign you have lived, and wisdom comes with that. There is also a great appreciation of nature, and emphasis on ‘forest bathing’ which means soaking up the fresh air from nature, taking a breath and feeling small amongst the tall trees. Seeing moss growing on a tree, it is not perfect, but there is a beauty in it. 

3. Finland – Kalsarikänni – “drinking at home, alone, in your underwear.”

In Finland, the outside world can be inhospitable (-15 degrees in Winter) so drinking at home in your underwear is a great option to stay safe and happy from the cold!

4. Brazil – Saudade – “nostalgia for a happiness that once was.”

There is a merit to thinking in this way, many scientists argue that experiencing temporary sadness, provides catharsis, it can promote generosity and makes us feel generally better. It refers to happiness that could have been and also moments of melancholy, saudade is that moment when you realise what you may have taken for granted, or when you appreciate  how important the people are in your life. I am sure we have all experienced this during our time in hibernation.  

5. Italy – Dolce far Niente – “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

This does not mean to be lazy, but simply the pleasure of taking a moment of pause amongst the chaos of the day. In the UK we tend to save up our ‘fun quota’ for the evenings, or the weekend. To experience Dolce far Niente means taking pleasure throughout the day. Such as slowing down to enjoy our breakfast without any digital devices, or having a bath in the afternoon with your book. Evidence shows that by resting more, it can positively help our well being and mental health. 

6. Greece – Meraki – “doing something with love and passion.”

This could be cooking, painting, dancing in the living room, or laying the table with fresh flowers. It involves single-tasking, no phones in the other hand, you are completely present doing something you absolutely love. What do you do with meraki? 

7. America – Homeyness & crafts – “learning something new can make time feel like it is slowing down.”

During the war, Americans were asked to knit socks for soldiers, which is where the history of coming together to craft comes from. Today, there is an emphasis on going back to crafting, there is a sense of nostalgia from producing something with your hands. It can show community, doing and creating something together, a definition of love.

8. Sweden – Smultronställe – “special place of refuge.”

This translates to ‘wild strawberry patch’, the saying refers to finding a place to go restore and relax. This could be your favourite bench in a park, or a special chair in your home, and allows you to take a moment of pause, to centre yourself and escape from any chaos. 

Please let us know which happiness concept you may be trying whilst ‘hibernating’. Or share with us any other happiness lessons you know or have learnt from around the world!

To find out more, we recommend reading the fantastic book by Helen Russel, ‘Atlas to Happiness.’ 

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