By Audrey Andrews | July 10th, 2020
The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People by Meik Wiking is the second in a series of charming books relaying the “secrets” of Danish happiness to the English-speaking world. I was introduced to Wiking by the Alpine Trails Book Club. We read The Art of Making Memories for January, my first month in the club. What a great introduction to the world of book clubs! Never would I have picked up The Art of Making Memories myself, but I immediately fell in love with the book and ordered The Little Book of Hygge.
In addition to looking welcoming on the shelf, Wiking’s books offer positive ideas and reinforcements, encouraging readers to make the most of life. Wiking cleverly offers the whole package: statistics, stories and personal anecdotes. Together, these pieces create a picture of lykke we all know to be true, but tend to forget: happiness does not come from things, but from relationships and activities. While Wiking is careful not to trivialize the very real monetary issues most people face, he reminds us that pursuing wealth will not lead to happiness. We should do what we love with who we love whenever we can.
The Danes have tackled issues of well-being far better than the United States in recent history. Wiking argues the lykke of the Danes is the result of basic niceties, firstly universal healthcare. The daily culture Copenhagen is also unlike that of any major city on the globe. Instead of boasting of long work hours and exhaustion, Danes stop work at a reasonable hour, are guaranteed five weeks of paid vacation yearly and have a combined 52 weeks of childcare leave with their partner when they have a child. Thus, they do not have to worry about basic livelihood. The wealth gap in Denmark is relatively small, especially in comparison to countries like the United States, with massive and growing economic inequalities.
Time outside also makes tangible improvements to happiness. Although I’ve yet to visit Copenhagen, I know the Danes bike. A lot. Unlike the carbon-fueled transportation of the United States, Danish commuters are often found in bike lanes. If possible, bike, run, walk- self-propel in any way- to a destination. Benefits abound, both physical and mental.
For those still skeptical, let me be clear: The Little Book of Lykke does not come across as a self-help book. Although I surely do not need convincing to believe what Wiking explains, his words will forever be welcome over my morning coffee or tea. Here’s to hygge, lykke and memories.