1-Sentence-Summary: The Little Book of Lykke gives Danish-derived and science-backed tips that will help you be happier.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
How do you think you would pronounce the word “lykke?” Do you know where it comes from? You’d be as surprised as I was to learn that because of it’s Danish origin the word is pronounced “leugguh.” In English it means happiness, but in Denmark, which is one of the happiest places on the planet, lykke is a way of life.
In The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People, Danish author Meik Wiking takes you on a journey to discover what science says will really make you happy. Along the way you’ll discover what habits make the people of Denmark so happy. You’ll also learn how you can have the same happiness in your life without having to move!
Wiking is the CEO and founding member of the Happiness Research Institute, which examines what contributes to people’s well-being around the world. Wiking is also a New York Times best-selling author of multiple books about happiness, including The Little Book of Hygge as well.
Here are the 3 of my favorite ways this book teaches to be happier:
- Being physically present with others and developing relationships are vital components of happiness.
- Having more free time will help you become happier.
- Lift your mood by volunteering.
Let’s figure out how to have more joy!
Lesson 1: To be happier, spend less time online and instead connect with the people around you.
They say that nothing is certain except death and taxes. While this idiom is funny, it identifies the truth that a lot of people despise paying taxes. But can you imagine a place where citizens actually enjoy paying taxes, even at average tax rates of 45%? Denmark is such a place, and it’s no accident that it’s also one of the happiest countries in the world.
Danes are glad to contribute to the welfare of society by paying taxes because they know that their money goes toward helping the common good. They know that because of their taxes, they’ll be taken care of as well as help provide the same for their neighbors and friends.
From the World Happiness Report of the United Nations, one factor in a country’s happiness is the strength of the sense of community. It’s much easier to see the world in a better light when you know that, should you fall on hard financial times, your government and fellow citizens will help take care of you.
To develop this sense of social unity wherever you live, Wiking teaches to get off social media and spend time with the people around you. One experiment from the Happiness Research Institute found that when people stayed away from Facebook for an entire week they felt less lonely and were more satisfied in life.
Lesson 2: Your joy grows when you have more free time.
Most Danish people don’t work 40 hours a week. Working an average of about 1,450 hours each year, Danes work less than 30 hours a week! And this added free time makes them happier, too.
I recently began the freelancer style of work, which increases happiness through granting more free time. Instead of having an employer I get clients and work for them instead. While I’ve added a few extra stresses like more uncertain pay, I’m grateful for the deeper levels of freedom I have now, and the happiness that has come with it!
My job satisfaction has improved significantly, as has my life satisfaction, because of the added freedom I have each day. I can follow my passions as I want, change my schedule to fit my needs, and even say no to clients I don’t want to work with.
In Denmark they have what’s called the “Bonus Grandparents” program. New parents who don’t have as much family support can connect with senior citizens around them to get help with watching their children. The parents get more free time, and thus more happiness. And the new pseudo-grandparents have a chance to become more active by watching the children, which is also what helps them live longer!
Lesson 3: Helping other people is a great way to help yourself feel better.
Have you heard of the helper’s high? It’s that happy feeling that you get when you help somebody else.
Science shows that being kind and generous lights up the nucleus accumbens, or the area of the brain that gives us the good feelings we have from eating and sex. Even thinking about giving to charity activates this region in the brain! From an evolutionary this is understandable because human survival depends on communities helping each other.
If you want to be happier, add volunteering to the list of activities that will help you get there.
When you give freely of your time to help others, it helps you be more grateful. Research shows that volunteers have more friendships and social connections and less depression. And you can add volunteering to the growing list of happiness-inducing activities of the Danish, as well.
To get more service opportunities, start looking for them! The RAKtivists group is full of people who look for Random Acts of Kindness they can perform. You can also download the Be My Eyes app and help visually impaired people identify objects or read. Look around in your community and you will also see many opportunities to help those around you. Doing so will make you happier!
The Little Book Of Lykke Review
Wow, this book is amazing! The Little Book Of Lykke has so many good insights that it was hard to nail down just three to focus on. I’m excited to try these ideas in my life to grow my own happiness.
Who would I recommend The Little Book Of Lykke summary to?
The 34-year-old neuroscientist who is studying happiness, the 54-year-old American couple who is curious how Scandinavians live, and anyone that wants to improve the level of happiness in their life.