**Disclosure!!! I was sent an advanced copy of The Little Book of Lykke by the publishers. It won’t actually be available until 7th September, but you can pre-order from any decent bookshop or online outlet now.**
Last year’s publishing sensation was The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, and boy was it big. So many people I know got a copy, posts were suddenly hashtagged #hygge or #britishhygge and last winter you couldn’t move for the throws, candles and carefully cradled mugs of hot beverages. One sad blog* rather sniffily dismissed the hygge love going on, before declaring that ” If that (her lifestyle) makes me the epitome of British Hygge, then so be it.”
And, yes, there was a lot of staged photos happening, with the mugs and the fire and the candles. But I venture that for every staged photo there was a lot of real hygge going on. We needed to find our happy spots at home last year, we needed to look for the cozy and comfortable in our own homes as an antidote to the year we had all had, and hygge was the means to an end. Hygge is, after all, about togetherness and appreciating life and everybody’s way to find hygge will be different.
Meik Wiking did us a big favour. The Little Book of Hygge (LBOH)set out to encourage us all to feel happy where we are. To be individually (or as part of a family) happy with our lives. But Meik Wiking is a well-travelled man, a very educated man, who has bigger plans for the planet.
And that’s where The Little Book of Lykke comes in. Lykke is the Danish word for happiness. It must get used a lot in Denmark because they are, after all, one of the World’s happiest people.
If hygge was about finding your Happy, building a nest and creating a life of cozy, comfortable safety, Lykke is about taking that out into the world and building a place of greater safety; a world built on community, trust, sharing and setting priorities not on getting more money but more happiness out of life. It’s hygge+, hygge on steroids, with World Domination as the goal and Lykke as the means to achieve it.
Let’s start with the externals. The book matches LBOH absolutely, except it’s nattily styled in rust, green and blue (rust and blue are this year’s colours to be seen in, I read somewhere). The simple illustrations and instagram-happy photographs are beautiful, and illustrate the content well.
Quality of print and handling can’t be faulted. This is a beautiful book to hold, read and smell. So far, so good.
There are nine chapters:
- The Treasure Hunt
- How Do You Measure Happiness?
- Putting the Pieces Together
Meik states that the intention of the book is “to take you treasure hunting; to go in pursuit of happiness; to find the good that does exist in this world- and to bring this into the light so that, together, we can help it spread.” He’s a Happiness Scientist who gets paid for visiting cities and countries across the world and helping them look at how the happiness level of the citizens there can be raised. You see, there’s a disjoint between being the richest people on Earth and being the happiest. Money will buy you happiness… but only to a point. After that you don’t get any happier, even if your salary doubles.
Meik says that the six factors he talks about (togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust and kindness) come into play once that ‘happy point’ is reached, and that for us as a country or community to boost happiness we need to build on these foundations.
The rest of the book essentially examines the reasons why we’re not as happy as we could be, and how we as individuals and as a collective can address that. It’s got a lot more information and charts than LBOH had, and is a lot less full of personal stories and anecdotes.
That said, the book is crammed with pages that give advice on why and how we can improve our local and national environs. It’s not a fluffy read. You don’t get recipes, or chapters about seasonal lykke. You do get tips that are absolutely bang to rights on how to create happiness: for example, turn your street into a community, move more each day, talk about mental health. I think if you just flicked through and grabbed the tips pages the book would be a great primer for boosting happiness. The fact that it doesn’t just want to tell you what to do, but why to do it is, for me, an added advantage.
I have heard Meik Wiking describe this as the book he really wanted to write last year and it’s easy to see why: it’s essentially his happiness manifesto for the world. He wants a kinder, more trusting, more tolerant society across the world and he needs us to go out and create it.
I’m a happy person, so he had me at the first quote from Lord of the Rings. I know that there’s a lot of sadness and anger and greed and jealousy in the world, and I want to help change that.
If you’re looking for a present for Aunty or Nan this year, and figure this is a good starter for a person new to hygge…. can I ask you to put this book down. Walk away, buy The Little Book of Hygge (hell, buy them my 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way book). It’s not a starter book. It’s not pretty, it’s not fluffy and it probably won’t feature in everybody’s Insta-feed alongside the socks and the mugs. That’s not what this book is for.
If you have read about hygge, understand that it is more than just a warm throw and a cup of tea next to a wood-burning stove and you are convinced that, far from being some obscurely Danish ability, hygge and happiness can be found/recognised/created in any situation, even post-truth Britain, then this book… this book is what you need.
Be prepared to think as you read it. Be prepared to feel challenged, to take notes or write words and thoughts in the margin, and to come away with a list of things you want to do. Note, ‘want to do’ not ‘feel you should do’. This book does not preach, but it does teach. I have a list of things I want to set in place. I know I should build my community more (it’s been on my should-do list for a while). Because this book gives me the motive and hints how, I will be dropping round to my neighbours soon and asking them for help.
I already look for happiness in everyday life, but I’m looking to spread that. What about you? Fancy spreading a little happiness as you go by? Just #Look4Lykke on social media.
Let’s spread that happiness starting now, shall we? Get your hands on The Little Book of Lykke and let’s make the world a happier place. That’s well worth the money.
Searching for a happy place on the web? Member of Facebook? Try The Hygge Nook group. It’s a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Or, if Twitter’s your thing, then join in #hyggehour every Monday at 8pm British time. Or, if you need to read more of my biting wit and sarcasm, why not treat yourself and me to a copy of either of my first two books? Both available from Amazon.
50 Ways to Hygge the British Way is available in Paperback and Kindle version and so is How to Hygge Your Summer, again in Paperback and Kindle form. If you purchase any book through the links on this page, I get a couple of pence extra per copy, and if you’ve already read my books and enjoyed them, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I have a Goodreads Author’s Page!
****How to Hygge the British Way Blog isn’t monetised. I have taken the decision that I want to remain neutral and not to promote things just because. I will only ever review items that I have bought myself, that I would have bought or that I think will help to promote hygge in a busy life. To do this, I need support. Even just the price of a coffee adds up to a book over time, and it means I can stay independent. Would you help? Please consider clicking through to paypal.me/HyggeJem and leaving even a small amount. I’d be very grateful. Thank you.***
*Blog name available on request, or you can google Epitome of British Hygge and find it. And thank her for describing my blog as helpful. I didn’t hear a note of sarcasm in her voice, did you?