What Norway Taught Me About Happiness

Lately Norway was announced the world’s happiest country, according to the report made by UNO. Wow, how did it happen? I wouldn’t call the local population the happiest of all I have seen – but these are the results of the study. I wonder, what brought Norway to the 1st place. And I also wonder why the top 5 of the happiest countries is occupied by Nordic countries: Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland. What is their secret? It got me thinking, and thinking hard. I am not a social scientist (though I am a proud holder of the half-done master in sociology :)), so I don’t want to start a discussion here that lacks the scientific basis – instead, I want to share my understanding based on my personal experience. Experience of happiness in Norway.

The easiest way to explain that result is by the Norwegian oil money and high income, but that would simplify the whole thing way too much. The money can explain a lot – but not everything. And while BNP per capita and levels of education and medicine service are important for the studies that proclaim Norway the best country for living, they are not enough to justify the subjective feeling of happiness. Money cannot buy happiness, but the certain amount of money is necessary like a good fundament on which a person can build a happy life. But when I think of the results of the study, I don’t compare Norway to the African countries or even my own Ukraine. I compare it to the UK, Germany or Spain (which is on 34th place). If it was oil money in a country enjoying the Mediterranean climate, the rich cultural life and the vibrant social environment – then we would not have this discussion at all. But the North is the place of harsh climate, long dark winters, short rainy summers, highly introverted culture – and these things are important for feeling happiness. So how do the Nordic people do it?

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Karl Johan, the main street of Oslo

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Life as a Form of Art

What if the highest art expression was the life we are living? What if it’s not what we do or create – but just our existence that has the most profound influence and artistic value?

This idea comes from listening to an interview on Youtube (here is the controversial thing: the interview is of an extraterrestrial being who is channeled by a human. If you are interested, search for Bashar and Alan Steinfeld. I know, that sounds weird, but my interest is not whether it is an alien speaking or not, but the points that are made. And there are a lot of good points there).  I was struck by these words: “Just by your existence you already have all the impact you will ever have. Nothing you do in life will ever create or generate more impact that you already have. The things that you do, your creativity don’t have more impact – they reveal the impact you’ re already having”.

a balcony in Granada, Spain

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5 Things – About Inspiration

I continue to share my 5 things, and today I want to share the things that inspire me. These are not the things that have the fetish status and the power to kindle my inspiration any time, but rather the small details of my life which – when I start collecting them – have the ability to sparkle joy and excitement inside of me. And it feels like they make the small holes through which the flood of inspiration breaks through and takes me in its flow, like the water finds little holes in the dam and then smashes it, flowing freely.

My previous post was about our use of social media, but I haven’t mentioned the positive sides of them (and the post was not critical towards the social media, rather how we use them). My favorite one, Instagram, is an inspiration for me, because it sends me on the search for beauty in my nearest surroundings, which I started to consider boring and not so pretty. But the new interest for detail gives me a fresh eye, and I end up with finding a lot of tiny wonders. Right now I love the function “stories” because as I make my first snaps, I get a feeling of a treasure hunt- and after short time I have to stop myself because there are funny and pretty little things everywhere 🙂 So all of the pictures below I made for IG and “Stories”, and collecting them is such a fun way to be mindful and grateful for the beauty around me.

  1. On our trip to the Southern France I decided to collect everything yellow. We were driving through the region of Occitanie, and I decided that the famous shop L’Occitane  is from these places – and as its color is yellow, so must this region be. You can guess what happened after that. I was noticing yellow things everywhere. Isn’t it weird how you start noticing whatever you make your mind up for? So if we decide to collect the positive vibes – surely we will notice them everywhere, right? So let’s do that! And let this yellow postcard be a reminder of that.

 

City bikes, spring flowers and French breakfast in Montpellier. Yellow boat in the port of Marseille

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What do the social media do to us – and what do we do with it?

If I were 18 now I would have ADHD or concentration problems. I would switch between studying and checking my Snapchat every 15 minutes. I would have distorted image of real life. I would believe that the people on Facebook and Instagram have a lot of fun in their real life, and I don’t. I would have distorted image of myself. Well, it was already distorted, so maybe, it would not be that worse)). But my self-esteem would suffer since I would compare myself not to the glossy images on TV, but to “real” images of beauty bloggers of Youtube and those Instagram divas with styled brows, big lips and sexy limbs which they are not shy to show.

Yes, I am talking about the social media and how it changes our ways. I don’t want to make an apocalyptic analysis here, and I don’t want to draw a totally negative picture –  I am just really curious about how did happen that we got addicted to sharing, and what does it do to us? I imagined how that would have shaped me when I was growing, and to be honest, I am happy that I grew up in the pre-Internet era. But today’s youth seem to cope with it somehow, and I wonder how they do it. I also wonder how people manage to keep balance in the time when it is so easy to get absorbed into all those distractions. The smartphone is called “A cigarette of modern age” – I find this metaphor aptly as I see the mobile glued to the hand of everyone like a cig was in the movies of 60s. So how do the people cope with this new addiction?

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Google picture

 

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Pathetic Travels

I have come back from the road trip around the Sothern France which is just some hours away from Barcelona where we are staying. Back to Barcelona, feels like coming back home. I have missed blogging! I packed my mac into the suitcase hoping I would blog from the hotels. Little did I know about blogging when you drive every day and sleep in a new town every night. But here I am – glad to be back!

What do you like to bring from your travels? Some buy postcards, some bring magnets or lavender soaps from Provence. We bring weird stories, big and small.

  • To miss the exit on the motorway and drive 7 km one way just to get off and drive 7 km back – done. In Perpignan.
  • To hit the low post while reversing the rented car – done. In Nimes.
  • To watch the fight in the harbor – done. In Marseille.

This got me thinking that maybe I should start a blog and call it “Pathetic Travels”. Because I have a lot of stories which are not glamorous to make me into the high-fly travel blogger, and which are not funny enough to make us into “those famous wandering clowns” which would make you roll on the floor laughing. They are more like Mr. Bean which starts every act carefully and properly, but it gets only worse and worse (though comparing my stories with Mr. Bean is really ambitious :)). For example, like this one.Read More »

Five Things I like

Today I want to start a feature on my blog which I really enjoy – to post regularly 5 photos of things I like in the moment. I have been doing it for a while on my other blog (Russian-speaking), and I find it a great way to share, especially in the moments when I am not sure what I want to share about :). Like right now, when I am traveling. I expected to be posting a lot during this trip – you are full of impressions and emotions, so what to do if not to share them on the blog, right? Wrong, I have discovered. Or just not for me. I get so overstimulated by impressions and emotions, that when I come home all I want to do is to fall on my bed and rest. Resting can mean reading or watching Russian bloggers on Youtube 🙂 But there is no energy for creating a lot – my maximum effort is to post a pic on Instagram, and that’s it.

It has been a month since I started this blog, and I know how much energy is needed in the very beginning, just to get the thing up and going (I have read that the airplane uses a lot of its fuel just to get off the earth), to create a momentum. This trip has set my blogger plans on a pause. And while I am writing a list of posts I want to write, and getting big ideas – I have to admit that I need to find a quiet time for those ambitions, and right now I can just play 🙂 Just keep on going with some smaller things. So if you experience that your grand plans keep you procrastinating – start doing small things, just get going, get writing. This is my discovery so far, and I am grateful for it. You never discover such things unless you start taking steps.

Back to the post idea, though. I find it a great way to keep the positive focus in my life – by taking photos of things I like. Not for Instagram or other social media – just for me. Like a moment of appreciation. And later when I scroll through my photos and see how many nice things are there, it is like writing a gratitude journal 🙂 Admitting how beautiful and colorful my life is. I hope, my sharing would inspire you to try this little life-hack. So now I want to share my 5 things of the moment, taken on my way from Norway to Spain.

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