In my ongoing quest for hygge I have realised that hygge and happiness are closely related. So, because I enjoy discovering things I signed up for The Happy Course offered by 42courses.com and conducted by The Happiness Research Institute. Soon I will have my own Certificate of Happiness! I can’t wait to put that on my business card.
The course itself is informative and fun but above all else it makes me think more deeply about happiness and how I have the choice to be happy. In the first chapter, the most interesting thing I discovered is that governments are taking practical and serious steps to increase the well-being of their citizens. The United Arab Emirates are aiming to be the fifth happiest country by 2021 and have appointed a Minister of Happiness. This is such a fabulous idea and as European countries move towards similar departments within their governments it made me wonder where South Africa ranks on the happiness scale. To my distress, we are ranked 105th out of 156 countries. Is it any wonder then that I feel that life is getting me down?
How is happiness measured? Six factors are considered: relationships, money, health, freedom, trust and kindness. On the surface I immediately rate my life 10 out of 10 in all of these factors but upon closer contemplation and being completely honest with myself, I’m closer to a 6 out of 10. Worldwide, happiness declines between the ages of 35 to 45, and I am in the shadow of 35. I will not spend a decade of my life feeling mildly satisfied when it is my choice to be happy.
So how to fix this?
I have appointed myself as Minister of Happiness in my life. It’s about baby steps right now, my search is still new and blinking in the harsh light of introspection. It’s hard not to close my eyes and stagnate in the waters of denial, to get caught up in a facade.
I am a believer of “fake it ’til you make it” and the academic term for this is synthetic happiness [which sounds like an oxymoron] but is really just deciding to be happy despite your circumstances.
Step one is to be kind. To myself, to others, to my country.
Be kind to each other, the night’s coming on – Charles Swain