In the solitude of the laboratory a researcher raises her head from the microscope, eyes looking for the answer. The solemn voice in the background says: “Since the beginning of the ages we have asked the same question…What are we gonna have for dinner?” This is a Norwegian tv commercial advertising a series of readymade meals in the local food store. Funny but true. In Norway the question we ask ourselves and each other the most is this: what shall we have for dinner? A luxury problem, as they say it in Norwegian. But jokes aside, what is the most important question in our lives?
Since the beginning of ages we have asked ourselves the same question… Let me propose my version. We have asked ourselves about what it means to live a good life. What does it take to be happy? Plato starts his dialogues with the conversation of Socrates about what virtue is. Because, let’s agree, a good life is not only good food and travel, but it has also a moral bit. That old idea that you cannot be happy by being bad. That ethics is in the base of the happiness. In my eyes, the philosophers of Ancient Greece were at the core of the most important question. Talking about what is ethics, aesthetics, what is noble and what is beautiful. Too sad that in ages to come the philosophy became an intellectual game, with so much logics and theories and so little guidance about the most important question in life.
“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”, goes the popular Norwegian saying. That is right – and it is also wrong. I would say, that there is a weather that makes you feel down. While the sunshine makes the body to produce another happy hormone serotonin, the darkness leads to production of melatonin, a hormone that makes us tired and passive, which is necessary at night so we can fall asleep. In autumn there is less light which makes us feel down, sleepy and passive. That’s why it is important to meet the season prepared, with good knowledge of yourself and some strategies.
During those few days I was in Barcelona it was so easy to wake up and feel enthusiasm. Even though it was hard to fall asleep because of the unruly thoughts about the political situation, it was enough to see sun rays through the window and feel the rush of energy. When I was landing in Norway, my eyes were so in love with the colors of autumn, and I joyfully breathed in the cool crispy air. Few rainy days later and I was afraid of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) creeping on me as it used to do in the past years. Luckily, I had made a list of activities that I was looking forward to this autumn. My list of joy. I feel moved to share its ideas here – maybe, you can borrow some for making your autumn better and brighter. I want to keep myself off the beaten path and leave out the things like warm teas under fluffy blankets. These tips seem to be well known, and I am sure, that we all do them in autumn 🙂
Recently the world was infected by a new cozy inspiration: the Danish concept of hygge. Suddenly hygge was everywhere. I was reading the British and Spanish articles about this miraculous phenomenon, my Instagram feed was depicting the Hygge Book at homes from France to Russia. And, of course, I myself got affected and bought the book “The Cozy Life. Rediscover the Joy of Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge” by Pia Edberg. It seemed to be the perfect timing to be Scandinavian!
Now I understand why the school starts in August in this country. As the summer madness fades away (as it does here in Norway), the new appetite for knowledge wakes up. At least, inside of me. I am not happy about summer fading away so soon – but I love this hunger for learning sending its calls. I am not going back to school this year (and sometimes I miss that excitement), but as a self-educating student in the school of life I have found some great material this week. And burning to share it with you.
This time I survived two weeks of dance madness: first, a week of Summer Sensual Days and then Croatian Salsa Festival. This has been my 3d time of this festival, and to my joy, happiness and tiredness I have added some valuable insights which make me feel something like a veteran 🙂 While chatting with a friend about my festival experience, I made a joke that I once will write my handbook of how to do the best of this festival. Wait a minute, I have a blog (which I kind of totally forgot in all that craze) – I don’t need to start a handbook to share all I know now!
So how do you create your best and happiest experience? This goes for dancers and not dancers alike (so keep on reading, even if you are not a salsa enthusiast!).
I feel that I stumbled upon some great finds this week – and I feel that I just cannot keep them to myself. Here is a list of books and talks that make me bubbling with inspiration. Their subject is happiness, change of thinking, work and positivity. If you are into it also, let’s go!
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?