Tag: Happiness

Why Danes Are The Happiest Nation On Earth? The Answer Is “Hygge”

The happiest nation on Earth have their own little secret, which is actually accessible for everybody despite their location nor nationality. It’s “hygge” – a concept, which means a cozy, relaxing and enjoyable way of life.

Danish Hygge

I know, and I am not even sorry – one of my favorite places on Earth is Denmark, and I cannot help but think of it every day I wake up if I am not there. I have fallen in love with Denmark many years ago, and its nature and culture have not been the only things I’ve fallen in love with – “hygge” was yet another one. “Hygge” takes a very big and important place in Danish lifestyle. The concept “hygge” supports enjoyment of small things in one’s life, such as a warm tea and a cozy plaid during the grey and rainy day, a relaxing and sunshiny Saturday morning, fluffy socks that your friend has given you as a present for no significant reason or an interesting lifestyle magazine, which you’ve recently subscribed to. Those are the little things that make our lives more interesting and worth to live for. We go through such little experiences without thinking too much of them, and that is exactly why Danes claim to be happier than the rest of people – simply because they know when to stop and enjoy those little everyday pleasures that we don’t pay too much attention to. Even if you think that you don’t do anything significant, you’re just having a Friday afternoon conversation with some mint tea with a friend – you’re actually doing “hygge”. Acknowledge this.

The central part of “hygge” is people, time, and the time you spend with the people you love.

The central part of “hygge” is people, time, and the time you spend with the people you love. The author Helen Russell, which has recently published a book “The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering The Secrets of the World Happiest Country” claims that “hygge” effect is taking place everywhere in Denmark: Danes enjoy having a cozy dinner by aromatherapist candle light, the smell of freshly ground coffee beans, fluffy socks, giving small gifts to your friends and colleagues for no reason… Yet certainly, the most crucial of that is treating others with love and respect, which starts from love for yourself first. The author claims that living the “hygge” life does not really require any investments: one is not required to try too hard, or invest. All you need to do is to start enjoying the little things that are already happening in your life, and know when you should just stop, relax, and enjoy the moment.

Happiest Tribe on Earth

Do you know where the happiest people on Earth live? You must’ve answered “Denmark”. According to the ex-missionary Daniel Everett, the happiest people live in Brazil. 

Pirahã men @ Ezotera.ariom

Pirahã men
@ Ezotera.ariom

Members of a primitive tribe, called Pirahã, are said to be the most simple and happiest people living on mother Earth, or so they perceive themselves. They are extremely simple, basing their knowledge on facts and relationships. A missionary, who went to the Amazon jungle trying to convert a lonely tribe has become an atheist himself and has written a book on Pirahã people pointing the differences between the simple tribe and modern 21-century people.

Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes

How different the realisation of world is among Pirahãs? First and foremost, Pirahã might be the only people not sleeping for a long time, unlike us. In many countries we have such expressions like “good night”, “sleep tight” or “sweet dreams”, that we say before going to sleep. In Pirahã tribe people, before going to nap, say to each other something similar to “Don’t sleep! There are snakes around”.

When You Are Not You Anymore

Members of Pirahã tribe usually nap 20-30 minutes each time they feel sleepy. Not more than that. Pirahã people think that sleeping is bad. They believe that while sleeping, a human being becomes weak and unable to protect himself, therefore they try to avoid long-hour sleep. And, most interestingly, they believe that after a long sleep you are not you anymore. If they happen to fall assleep for a longer time than they had planned (i.e. 20-30 minutes), they change their names because they are are not they anymore. Pirahã’s would change their names and would refer to their past as “him” (i.e. previous me).

Xibipíío

In Pirahã tribe experiencing things means everything. Literally. Their culture is concerned solely with matters that fall within their direct personal experience, and therefore there is no undefined past or future, only their current personal experience and living memory. They have a concept and expression Xibipíío, meaning “experiential liminality”, which describes something “experiencable” or experienced. They do not value past or future, but instead focus on now, i.e. current  Xibipíío =  current experience. The tribe does not understand unexperienced past; i.e. if you want to say that “he went fishing last week”, Pirahã people will not believe you. First, because such concept of weeks does not exist, instead time is relative and you would have to say that it happened “small time” or “big time” ago. Second, in Pirahã language every verb must have a suffix, which indicates the source of evidence. So you end each verb with either “I saw it”, “I heard it” or “I deduced it from other available evidence”. Otherwise, if you do no do this, they will not understand how come you can even makes such claim and they would dismiss it (“I don’t believe it happened, unless there is evidence for it” attitude).

Accepting Things As They Are

Politeness in Pirahã tribes doesn’t exist, because it only shows lack of trust in each other. Everyone loves, supports and understands each other in the tribe, where they do not question or try to reason things too much. Children are not punished or shouted on and the only explanation and reasoning they have is “it just happened”. And that’s it. They do not question things nor try to see “deeper” aspects of feelings or situations. If a rebellious teenager wants to be alone for the whole day – fine, you are free to do anything you want as long as you are willing to not eat all day. You are responsible for yourself and your own survival.

In Pirahã  tribe natural occurrences are not questioned. Things just happen. There are no special ceremonial rituals either. Two people “marry” when they start living together, and two young children can “marry” as well, because a boy might know how to catch fish and a girl knows how to clean it, therefore they can live together helping each other.

You Are Responsible For Your Own Work

One of the strongest Pirahã values is no coercion; you simply don’t tell other people what to do. You do not command (and cannot command) nor give advices, everyone knows what they have to do without being told so. Since there is no social hierarchy, no one is “better” or “worse” than the other one. The tribe doesn’t have leaders. Everyone is equal (hmm, just like in Denmark…) and equally good.

No God And No Myths

The story of Jesus Christ to Pirahã did not sound convincing enough since they did not understand such words as “century”, “time” and “history”. After Pirahã tribe had listed to the missionary Daniel Everett, the only questions they asked were “was he brown like us, or white like you”? “Did you see him? Did your father see him?” According to Pirahã , if you or at least people close to you haven’t experienced it, it is simply not relevant. Pirahã does not have any concepts of a supreme entity or God and they lost interest in Daniel’s stories as soon as they discovered that he had no empirical verification for Jesus. They require evidence on personal experience (Xibipíío). Otherwise they dismiss it as irrelevant.

To my mind, such tribes as Pirahã show that happiness lies in in small, daily activities. The more we try to complicate, the worse our lives become. It seems it’s quite easy to be happy, as long as you do not over-complicate your life… Don’t you think so?

CEO Of Insights Nordic Shares Her Formula Of Happiness: “Follow Your Passion”

Strong, goal-reaching and optimistic women have always inspired me. I have always been fascinated by women, who lead fruitful personal lives and manage to be strong leaders at the same time. ”Luck is an attitude”, heard it from a friend of mine the other day and Theresa Blegvad, CEO of Insights Denmark and Sweden, agrees with me: ”You just have to find what inspires you and follow your passion”, says she.

Theresa Blegvad

Nowadays, in a 21 century, more opportunities are available for us and that is the reason why expectations raise as well. Women are expected to be both caring mothers and competitive businesswomen. I had an opportunity to talk to Theresa Blegvad, a CEO, wife and a mother of 3. ”I am an entrepreneur, a loving wife and a mother of 3 girls”, introduces herself Theresa, 40, who is a CEO of an international organisation. ”I started working in international organisation since I was 18 years old. I wanted to try different things and I liked the environment I was working in, it was very international”, she shares. ”At one point in my life I made a career change and followed my passion. Now I am ”sitting on my dream”, she says with a big smile, which only supports her thought.

A lot of people know you as an optimistic, always smiling personality, who is ready to help. But how would you describe yourself for the ones do not know you?

I am an entrepreneur, I love being around people. I like to develop myself and help others to develop. I like to observe the process on how other people are improving. That is the reason why I have always supported volunteering and the idea behind it; I usually volunteer in a number organisations and support others in doing the same. As for example, I usually am part of 5-6 boards where I give my opinion, besides, I usually meet young entrepreneurs with whom I share my experience and help them improve. Other people, I believe, would describe me as being pretty outgoing and having a strong will. If I am passionate about something, I will go for it. If I have an idea or a goal that is worth going for, I will only get a success out of it. Of course I have to consider time since I don’t have time to realize all of my ideas, so time is my enemy.

Nowadays, people usually do not care about spirituality due to the lack of time or simply lack of faith. What is your opinion about it?

I would call myself a spiritual person. I believe we are a part of system. If I could use a religion for it, I would probably be a buddhist. I strongly believe in ”what goes around comes around”. Or, to examplain my thought – what you put in, you get back. So people should take care about what they put in themselves and others…

Young people usually have hard time realizing what is it, what they want to do for their lives. What was your choice after you graduated and how did it influence your further decisions?

I started working since I was 18. I got a job in an international organization where I was selling vegetable fat. It was a company here in Aarhus, where I ended up working for many years in a row. I did enjoy my work and I, as well as my colleagues, could see my development. Besides, my own role was very innovative and competitive.

Straightly to the point – how did it happen that you decided to change your career and started working for Insights?

To be honest, while I was working in my previous job, it happened that I got my 3 girls in 14 months and I quit. In my spare time I used to be involved in a number of organizations and did a lot of social activities. After having children I decided that now, finally, it’s time to go for what I am really passionate about: people development, HR. I chose to be self-employed 11 years ago. I have to thank for my relatives and especially my husband who allowed me to be a businesswoman at the same time when my children were very young. Back then, I wanted to try something new and follow my dream. So in fact I chose so because of my girls, I thought I need to make a career change and go for my real passion.

What were the hardships you faced when you started?

Probably the networking. It was challenging because I had to develop the business even though back then the company didn’t have as many clients and I had a hard job to make it run. It was also hard to see myself in a CEO role. Now we have much more clients so ofc I managed it, it’s been pretty good. I have been doing it with the team, so it is a team effort.

A lot of people think that when kids are small, they should take a less important job. I don’t agree, you have to go for your passion but have to manage your job and family so that none would suffer. You have to prioritize your tasks and know how to prioritize. Eventually one day your children will live their own lives, so if you don’t focus on your job you will eventually lose your passion.

How did you establish and develop such a strong network, that leaded to success?

I am a person who values networking and relationships. It goes easy for me. I just love to be around people that can bring ideas to the next level. For example, I have just met a young woman who makes sustainable bags out of old tents. It was so refreshing to meet someone with a great initiative, in such situations I feel obliged give my knowledge to the next generation. I like to be around different people who can brainstorm and come with innovative solutions. Plus I think that everyone should realize the value of networking. The more people you know, the more people you can rely on. The more people you can rely on, the better the result is.

What kind of boss are you?

I definitely am the one with a lot of inspiration. Visionary. I like to have visions, dreams and I have a good intuition. One thing that I really do not like is negative people. It’s fine to have frustrating discussions or conflicts but if people tend to continuesly try to force negative atmosfere, I get frustrated.

Is ”doing what you love to do” a formula of being happy?

Yes, without a doubt. I also think that everybody in Insights should stay only if they love what they do. Of course, there sometimes are periods when you have to be there for your team and help others instead of just doing what you like, but when you do what you love to do – and then it’s easy to keep yourself motivated. And also, coming back to spirituality, what is essential in our lives? It’s love and passion. So a lot of people are driven into jobs because they have to earn money yet they don’t enjoy what they do. It’s important to follow your heart.

It is also the reason why I do a lot of volunteer work, then it is easy to see other people doing what they love to do, and I like to support them and share my experience.

Such a busy woman like you probably doesn’t have time for any hobbies at all…

Quite the contrary! My hobby is spending my time with my family and friends. It actually takes a lot of my time. I have also recently started playing golf again; I used to play golf when I was a student, since I was selling golf equipment in Aarhus. It’s great to go back to it again and improve the techniques I used to know. Sometimes it also feels great just to go to a silent corner and read. Last year I turned 40, and I promised to myself that within next 10 years I will try to re-establish connections my old friends, so from now I have about 2 activities a week where I meet my old friends during my free time.

What does a person like you value most?

Authenticy, honesty and passion as well as being around people that inspire me. And enthusiasm, which is linked to passion…