A Word for the Weekend: Lykke. It’s Danish for Happiness

A Word for the Weekend blog series

This week’s word will be all over the cuddly shelves of the bookshops on September 7th. It’s the word Meik Wiking has chosen for his new book, The Little Book of Lykke. Unlike hygge, this word does have a direct English translation: it means happiness.

Okay, so I’ve chosen it as the word for the weekend because the new book (which I reviewed here) is out on the 7th, but I’ve also chosen it because, whatever language you say it in, happiness is always something we need.

A life spent in laughter 1.jpg

Happiness has been well-recorded as having such a positive effect on humans, it lowers blood pressure, releases happy hormones, gives us strength to face our challenges. The question really should be why we don’t harness its healing powers more often in our lives.

Be happy for this moment

I think that’s probably because we don’t think happiness will last. It’s always described as fleeting, elusive, can’t be caught, can’t be bought. It’s a will o’ the wisp.

Well, yes. If you are looking for the happiness you felt when you fell in love at first sight, if you’re looking for the elation of winning a contest, if you’re looking for the belly laugh you gave when you first heard a good joke, then you are doomed to disappointment. That level and pitch of happiness isn’t built to last. That elation, the euphoria, the madness of love and kick of Adrenalin…. that is a fleeting emotion.

That also wouldn’t be good for you as a person. Such heightened feelings, such emotion 24/7 would be painful and bad for the body.

Happiness here has to be something achievable. It has to be a less dramatic, more maintainable happiness.  It has to be happiness that we are aware of, without freaking if we don’t feel it. I love the word contentment, that’s my kind of happy. A softer, more subtle kind that finds happiness in life not because I search out the extremes of happiness, but because what I choose to do and the people I surround myself with have happy feelings as an added extra. Happiness is the free toy at the bottom of the cereal box, the free chapter at the end of a novel, the extra 13th sweet in a packet of 12.

Happiness is not a goal it is a byproduct.jpg

When I sit and sip my tea slowly, rather than bolting it down, I can take the opportunity to enjoy the taste, to anticipate the heat, to savour the feeling of a warm drink on a cool day. That makes me happy.

When I sit with a guinea pig on my knee after cleaning the cage, I can appreciate how small, and soft, and warm the animal is and how protective I feel towards them. That makes me happy.

When I watch a programme with the kids and they laugh at the (really very) adult humour I can appreciate that they are growing up, that they are going to move out sometime, and that I can’t be that bad a mother if they’ve made it this far without major incident. That makes me happy.

Happiness is a direction

I share my happiness with friends, with my readers here on the blog and with my journal. From 7th September we have another way to share the things that build community, spread happiness and improve life. In his book, Meik Wiking asks us to be his eyes and ears. The Happiness Research Institute will be following the hashtag #Look4Lykke on social media. They want to know what works for improving the quality of life. What are people and communities doing to make the world a happier place? I’ve seen a few good #Look4Lykke posts already. I’m hoping to add some of my own as well. It would be great to see you joining in with this hashtag. What makes you happy? What have you seen that makes others happy?

And, in case you need a nudge, here’s a free Autumn Happiness Infographic. Just some ideas to build a community of happier, more resilient people. Have fun!

Autumn Happiness

If you’d like to know more about my books and social media, then click through to this page, About my books and Social Media links where you’ll find links to The Hygge Nook and my books. And don’t forget…. look for the happy in your life!

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