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What makes us truly Happy?

Do you think it is possible to measure happiness scientifically? There are lots of people who do & are constantly figuring out new ways to measure how happy populations of people are in comparison to others.

The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking is a fantastic exploration of happiness. Meik runs the Danish Happiness Research Institute & has written 2 books dedicated to increasing happiness in the world. I am a big fan of both books. They both emphasise things which I have come to believe through experience; gratitude is important, being present & fully connecting with each moment makes us happier, pleasure can bring happiness but not on its own, deep happiness comes from having a purpose & sharing that with other people.

When do you feel true happiness?

In the book Meik tells the story of a couple in Australia who were suffering from depression & illness & couldn’t work. Isolated in their house, even though they had each other, they were struggling. They decided to reach out & connect with people in a positive way & it changed their lives.

What they did was really quite simple, they got to know their neighbours. They decided to grow a community. It started with just asking everyone what they would like to see happen in their street. People talked about gardening days, afternoon teas & one boy wanted a skateboard ramp. One of their neighbours had the skills to build the ramp & so they gathered the materials & built it. The street quickly became a place of play instead a place of cars. Other projects followed, vegetables were planted, a skill share register was developed & soon everyone was involved in working together — they even ended up with a shared pizza oven. Small acts changed the lives of the people in that street & they were happier as a result.

I have experienced this myself lots of times especially through volunteering. I used to live in Peru & worked with a home for boys with no family called Azul Wasi. We raised money, had daytrips out, started projects like vegetable gardens & worked to improve their living conditions. People came from around the world to get involved & even though we are now all scattered around the globe we have a connection to that place & the times we spent together. Most of us are still involved from afar because we just can’t let go.

Visiting Machu Picchu with some of the boys was one of the best days of my life

Living in Peru was often incredibly stressful. I was running a business in a strange country, using a language I had only just learned with demanding customers & unhelpful officials getting in the way. I was working 16 hour days, it was tough & it burned me out. One of the things which kept me sane & made me happy was being involved with Azul Wasi. Even when I was exhausted & wanted to just sleep, I knew going there to be with those people & be a part of something bigger than me would make me happier than anything else.

Lots of things can make us happy but happiness is about being happy overall. I believe that true happiness comes from togetherness.

What do you think? I would love to hear your ideas about happiness.

Meik Wiking has started a #Look4Lykke on social media. People are sharing stories of happiness & positivity. I love this idea & check the hashtag to see what people are doing around the world to increase happiness.

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