Happiness is a subject I’m passionate about – I mean, it’s right there in my blog name. My goal here it to help readers be happier, healthier and more hopeful for the future – and of course, I’m not alone in this.
Meik Wiking is basically the King of happiness, if that was ever to be a thing. Not only is he a best selling author (hands up who read The Little Book of Hygge?) he is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.
The very fact that there is a Happiness Research Institute makes me smile, and it makes sense that its home is Denmark, often hailed as the world’s ‘happiest country’.
In Meik’s new book, The Little Book of Lykke (pronounced Luu-kah, meaning ‘happiness’) he not only looks at the lessons we can learn from the Danes about happiness, he takes us on a worldwide treasure hunt to discover keys to happiness buried all over the globe.
I was so excited when SANE, the mental health charity, got in touch to let me know they were working in collaboration with Penguin Life to launch this excellent book. After all, happiness and mental health have a long, if not complicated relationship.
I was sent the book to review, along with an incredible smelling candle from Sandwick Bay Candles and some tasty Hoogly tea (because reading isn’t really reading without tea and candles right?). So I hunkered down and got to reading.
I pretty much knew from the outset that I was going to like the book, it was so up my street, we were basically neighbours.
But still, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I liked it. And here’s why:
Meik talks about his own situations, not shying away from the fact that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. He also slots in case studies, and reading other people’s stories of how they improved their happiness is always inspiring.
There were several moments when I caught myself grinning while reading The Little Book of Lykke, and this isn’t just because it’s a book about happiness and generally nice things – it’s because Meik is bloody funny.
This is what makes the book stand out to me. There are plenty of books out there (and blogs, ahem) that spout advice about happiness, but they can lack substance.
Meik and his team at the Happiness Research Institute dedicate their working lives to the science of happiness. There are stats, studies and science peppered throughout, giving credibility (and making you feel hella smart while reading).
Along with the science, case studies and anecdotes there are happiness tips at every corner that bring the book to life. These practical prompts take the ideas from the page, lifts them up and places them smack-bang into your life.
I mean, this always helps right? Pretty photography and illustrations line the treasure hunt to give your mind an aesthetically pleasing break.
Some happiness lessons I learnt
There’s a huge amount to learn from this book, not only on happiness but also mental health and generally being a better human. Meik delves into six factors of happiness, so without spoiling the book, here are a couple of happiness lessons I learnt:
Eating with others encourages togetherness (the word ‘companion’ comes from the Latin ‘com’ and ‘panis’, meaning ‘with whom one shares bread’).
Yes, there is a correlation between money and happiness, but it isn’t quite what you think.
We gain more from buying experiences over things, but if you want happiness from an object, associate it with a special event (for example, treat yourself to a fancy handbag when you get a new job!).
Shinrin-yoku (‘forest bathing’) is a practice in Japan we should all get into.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Mental Integration Index, the UK gets top ranking in reducing mental health stigma and raising awareness (go us!).
Do not disturb initiatives at work could be the future of productivity.
This is just a taste of what’s included in the book, there is honestly so much more and I can’t recommend it enough. The book is out tomorrow for those interested in reading.
Finally, at the end of the book Meik talks about how we as a society can help unearth more keys to happiness, asking readers to be his ‘eyes’.
So if you spot something that increases the happiness of you or those around you, use the hashtag #Look4Lykke to help the Happiness Research Institute learn more, and to just generally spread positivity.
Have you read any other books on happiness you would recommend?
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