Hygge

Hygge

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I spent the last week in Copenhagen for a family wedding. It is a place I visit often, and it always inspires me in my mission to make my home nation of Guernsey the best place to live on earth by 2020.

Denmark has been deemed to be the happiest place to live (in 2013 and 2014), and the third happiest place in 2015, after Switzerland and Iceland. The indicators that are used to come to this conclusion are personal and social factors like residents’ health and healthcare, family relationships, security of employment, political freedom and lack of government corruption. In addition, Danish people have five weeks’ holiday per year, and achieve work-life balance as a cultural norm. Leisure is a serious business, and people know how to switch off, chill out and enjoy life to the full – in companionable groups.

But what I like most about Denmark is the cultural phenomenon of ‘hygge’ (pronounced “heu-gah”): the art of having friendly social gatherings and intimate get-togethers with family and friends. A website devoted to this defines it as ‘The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. Celebrating the everyday.’ It is dedication to simplicity and appreciation. Giving and receiving.

It is extraordinary that something so simple can so thoroughly impact the way an entire country works and operates. Because, for me, this is the essence of Denmark’s national happiness.

Thanks to my times in Denmark, I have seen this concept in action, and as a result, I like to bring hygge to the way I live and to all the experiences I create.

I live in a country with some of the the lowest tax rates in the world. It can be challenging to note that one of the countries with the highest taxes consistently ranks as one of the happiest places on earth. Yet, it’s not about money at all. Danish people are happy in spite of government levies. Hygge is about simply ‘being’ rather than ‘having’. It’s about a sense of community and enjoyment in one another’s company.

In our era, we can reinvent ourselves – technologically and in other ways. I believe it is possible to have low taxes and high happiness. It is possible to deliver a quality of life way beyond even Denmark’s, without the costs associated with it. I fully expect that if we move beyond the conventional, it will be possible for the cost of living and the cost of government to plummet in the coming months and years, and I am committed to working on that possibility now. I also expect a radical improvement in our quality of life to go hand in hand with this change.

At the very heart of this revolution is an understanding that something as beautiful and as simple as adopting the cultural phenomenon of hygge can do more for our quality of life than any government service can provide.

Re-imagining and reinvention achieve so much more than tinkering about the edges of a system that doesn’t serve everyone. Looking at maximising quality of life from a blank sheet of paper is what I love to do. In order to achieve that, there is much to be learnt from the rest of the world and there is much of what we do now to be discarded.

To starting anew.

Marc

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  1. Whatever we want to call it, you hit the nail on the head about happiness.

    It’s all about just “being”. Whatever we have is irrelevant.

    Too often people talk about the past or future and forget the now.

    I say, “just be”.

    • you said – ‘whatever we have is irrelevant.’ believe me, it is well relevant when you have nothing, or next to nothing, like millions across the globe. poverty is not a natural state – it is man made, created by colonial legacy and now by the multi-national super rich with their boots firmly planted on the throats of the poor and developing nations. see for example the history of world debt and how the world bank and the imf effectively run most of the countries in africa from new york bank buildings. donato – to have clean water, or not to have clean water – go to that place and then say to me ‘irrelevant’.

      • Mik, you are implying that poverty is having nothing and that you are using wealth as an indicator of having something.
        Wealth in life is not about money.
        And yes, me and my family have come from a place of not having clean water, so please refrain from criticising or judging me before you know me and have the facts.
        You have completely missed the point of my comment to Marc’s post and trying to turn it into some imperialist agenda you have.
        Thank you.
        Love and light.

    • I am touched, moved and inspired by your comment. Truly said…

  2. The good happiness is in ISLAM Religion, try to feel it 🙂

  3. you said – ‘It can be challenging to note that one of the countries with the highest taxes consistently ranks as one of the happiest places on earth. Yet, it’s not about money at all. Danish people are happy in spite of government levies’.

    no, no, no! the danish people are happy BECAUSE of government levies, not in spite of them. it is ALL about money and the way wealth is distributed, through democratic government intervention. this is the story of the scandinavian peoples’ well-being.

    you then said – ‘I believe it is possible to have low taxes and high happiness. It is possible to deliver a quality of life way beyond even Denmark’s, without the costs associated with it. I fully expect that if we move beyond the conventional, it will be possible for the cost of living and the cost of government to plummet in the coming months and years, and I am committed to working on that possibility now. I also expect a radical improvement in our quality of life to go hand in hand with this change.

    At the very heart of this revolution is an understanding that something as beautiful and as simple as adopting the cultural phenomenon of hygge can do more for our quality of life than any government service can provide.’

    quite simply winny – how, how exactly, how on earth, how are you going to do even a zillioneth of whatever you think you mean you want to do? sorry babes, this is just more of your completely abstract nonsense and i bet even your followers are beginning to agree, no?

    ps – surely making guernsey the best place in the world is aiming disappointingly low? guernsey is a very good place to live already by most indicators of mental and physical wellbeing? (though it does seem the better placed they are, there seems an increasingly loud, lower-middle and middle class that still find increasing trivial faults with the place all day every day – to them i do say ‘you are spoilt, avaricious and self- regarding egotists that should leave on the first boat please’). my point winny is why not set a real challenge and make some god-forsaken villiage in sub-saharan africa the best place to be (or simply a measurably improved place?). why not simply adopt a little place, go there, help build some toilets, or dig a well, set up some solar power or some basic health provision? you could do that tomorrow, and thereby save or extend lives and you will probably never forget it. before you save the world, why not practice on one small child in the desert who, having contracted diarrhoea through contaminated water making up his milk powder feed, that feed supplied through NESTLE’S ruthless marketing, when traditional breast feeding would have fed him safely, now just needs the introduction of a simple saline drip, to save his life?

    • Indirectly I do work on those problems. Greed, government and bureaucracy are the biggest barriers to the development of somewhere like Africa. There are plenty of people working on aid in the world but there are few people working on the upstream problem which is the Western model itself. On the surface it would seem that improving a tax haven would not seem like a worthwhile endeavour but in the long run if is probably the most effective way I have seen of disrupting global inequality.

    • Well said Mik. Although Marc is advocating the disruption of global inequality through his well-intentioned methods, it is imperative that both focus and action is taken now to combat the impoverished populations whose plight in many circumstances has occurred as a result of unbridled corporate greed and globalisation (amongst many other things). Marc, rather than attempting to disrupt global inequality by addressing the ‘upstream problem which is the western model itself’, why not adopt a multi-layered approach and look at what Mik has suggested? Surely it is too closed-minded on your part to simply say ‘there are plenty of people working on aid in Africa’ and there are too few people looking at the root cause? Why not be reactive as well as proactive and look at fund-raising, for example, for some needy cause now? There is a danger that this could potentially lead to a loss of focus in your ultimate goal, but simply saying that there are plenty of people working on aid in Africa already, seems just a tad dismissive of the fact that there are still plenty of people who need our help now and not in the future? I agree that addressing the cause of problems is ultimately the best way forward in any scenario, but your apparent singular focus on this here seems, to me, to be incongruous if your goals are to fight inequality. Any thoughts?

      • The world is already adopting a multi-layered approach James. I don’t have to be involved in everything for that to be the case. I am not dismissive of it all. I know a lot of great people that are already focused on it and quite frankly they understand the problems in those areas better than I do. Personally I don’t enjoy fundraising and I like to directly see the impact I make in the world. My specialisms and passions are far better aligned with the work that I do at the moment. Ultimately I am but one human being doing the best he can with what he knows with what time as resources he has. I am quite certain that there are better ways to change the world than I have currently found but at the moment what I do feels like the right path for me as of today. Of course I wish I had more time and resources to do more than I do right now.

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