This year (and the end of last year) hasn’t been the most positive for me but despite some set backs I have managed to look on the brighter side of life more recently. I’ve become a little bit fascinated with the concept of happiness, how happiness is achieved, what brings happiness to different people, and hopefully to me. Recently I listened to the Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking who runs the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark. It’s a short, amusing and practical little book, full of research into happiness all over the world and tips for how to bring a little more happiness into ones own life. One such tip was to keep a “smile file” which records nice things people say to/about you or nice things people do for you. I’ve turned this idea on it’s head a little for this blog (though I’ll be keeping a smile file in my personal journal) and will be sharing some of the simple ideas I learn about for increasing happiness.
What follows are the things I took from this particular book:
- Eat like the French – light a candle, eat with company/family, eat slowly and ban screens. Eat with meaning and enjoy it.
- Get to know your neighbours – find out about them through an amusing questionnaire, create a neighbourhood directory (of skills and/or resources you could share), build a neighbourhood free library/book swap.
- Smile and chat to people you meet in the street or going about your day.
- Move more in your day (walk or ride instead of riding)
- Buy experiences instead of things OR save a big purchase for when you reach a milestone or achievement (I love this idea), that way the item will forever be linked to that positive event.
- When you’re at work (if possible) schedule uninterrupted time to concentrate on animportant task – turn off notifications, emails, messaging etc. This point was also mentioned in a Podcast I listened to recently, they called it “deep work”.
- Spend less time on social media and more time face to face with family and friends.
- Use wasted time (waiting time, commuting time etc) to read or do something productive.
- Live near where you work if you can – a commute of less that 15 minutes is optimal.
Some of these I do already – I volunteer at the girls school each week, I do lots of walking instead of driving or riding with Miss 8, and when I do work the commute is between 5-15 minutes depending on the school. Some I’ve tried but slipped out of the habit of – I’ve tried to limit social media but have fallen back into it recently, and dinner times have become a bit harried and rushed. And yet others are quite a ways out of my comfort zone – talking to people I don’t know and getting to know the neighbours pushes my introvert nature quite a bit, though I do know one next-door neighbour well enough to chat with and exchange home made jams etc with.
The book also gave me a few things to look into further. For example, Bhutan measures happiness instead of wealth and even has a Ministry of Happiness – I need to know more about that. And there is a street in Perth where they have put all sorts of initiatives in place to build happiness and create a social network for everyone. Tottenham has something call Incredible Edible which sounds fascinating. And of course there is the Happiness Research Institute itself and Meik Wiking’s first book, The Little Book of Hygge.
I’ll be back soon with some more smile file news, in the meantime I will be lighting the candles for dinner tonight and putting on my best French accent as we sit and share a meal. That’s enough to put a smile (or cringe) on anyone’s face.