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.
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.
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.