The U.S., 16th last year, is now 18th. Why is it sinking? Anthropologists and social psychologists tell us humans are social creatures -- much of our happiness flows from our connections to other people, our sense of community, and joint purpose. Right now, our trust government, the media, and various institutions has plunged. These researchers say that our night and day hunt for money, security, and consumer goods dominates our lives, along with addictions to painkillers, unhealthy food and technology.
Finland, Norway, and Denmark have problems too, but according to researchers, what sets happier nations apart is the premium their culture places on time spent in nature and in harmonious intimate contact with friends.
It sounds plausible, but...well, sort of Facebookish. I re-read recent articles in Time and The Week Magazine on how to be happier -- both boiled down to taking on more challenges, and making more money.
...Words, words ... like birds perch in my mind, till the wind blows, or a loud noise scares 'em away. Sure, you'll lose weight if you eat less -- no doubt about it, you can be happier if you do things that you haven't been doing, for good reasons...
Secretly privately, since what's happened in my country since the election, lays on on my world like large black cloud foretelling bad weather, I grab onto any bit of news that's fun or positive and borrowing the word that one of the happier countries uses for cozy, high quality social social interactions.
H Y G G E
Maybe when summer finally arrives my husband and I will head for Denmark and enjoy what's in the air there -- just pronouncing this word perks me up.