Everyone should read this month’s National Geographic cover story, The Search for Happiness. Especially if you are a USA American. Canadian Americans: you can go back to whatever you were doing, having celebrated Thanksgiving last month, unjumbled with Christmas; you’re the 6th happiest country on our planet. If you live in the Lower 48, read on – we rank 14th.
YOUCH! How did we tumble eleven places in one decade – in 2007, we rang in at #3.
Our Thanksgiving present to one & all – from the two of us & the Universe – are ways that we, as individuals, can infuse our lives with the qualities that support happiness: personal & institutional caring, nurturing our freedom – and others, cultivating multi-levels of generosity, being honest & expecting honesty from others, taking care of our health & our wealth, developing strong governance within our families communities nation.
In your everyday actions, think NORWAY. Norway leap frogged fron #4 on the 2016 World Happiness Report to #1 this year.
Most Americans – including me – are unaware that Norway is a major oil producing nation. Probably because it doesn’t flaunt the wealth it’s earned over the past 20 years pumping oil on its North Sea rigs. Instead, the bulk of monies earned are tucked into what has become the world’s biggest wealth fund. Which illustrates one reason Norway is #1 to our #14 – they are excellent money managers with an eye on the distant future instead of the immediate present. And it speaks volumes that the government is looking to – ironically – divest its fund of its oil stocks (it already shed its coal holdings) to ensure better stability. It plays the long game, we play the short.
Start acting more like Norway. Save more & save for the long haul. Step as far away from immediate gratification as possible. Model for your loved ones the power of moderation & forethought.
Two of our dearest friends are exemplars of this – after their fortunes changed in mid-life, they could have purchased a bigger home on the fashionable side of their wonderful city, but it never entered their mind. Their house is large enough to welcome all their children & sleeping-bagged grands, is near longtime friends, is home. They entertain there more than they go out, are right now busy planning one of the year’s highlights – their annual caroling party. They are two of the hardest working people I know, highly ambitious & keenly competitive. They love their work, are respected by their colleagues & associates, find ways to expand their work into other areas & are exceptional mentors. They frequently visit far-flung children & often have the delight of welcoming them home for extended stays. For many years, their annual trip to an exotic location has doubled as work (a professional conference) & an opportunity to bring four generations – their parents, their children, grandchildren, nieces & nephews – for two weeks of family-centered connections. They can afford it because they’ve always carefully cultivated their money time energies, from newly weds to doting grands. They have “good bones” to pass along – – he has a lot of Norwegian in him, she has a lot of Swede (tied with Australia for #10) – – and have taught their children, model for all of us, how to cultivate grow build your natural assets.
My greatest take-away from 2017 is the realization that the two of us are all about cultivating happiness. Reading the National Geographic article woke me up to the realization that an individual can take the very qualities that make the Top Ten so successful at cultivating joy in the everyday & make those qualities a more conscious part of our lives.
How can I be more Norway, less USA?
The holiday season is an excellent place to start nurturing greater caring (including self care), helping bolster the freedom of people who feel isolated & restricted, being generous with my time & energies even when money is scarce, expecting honesty from others & demanding it from myself, taking better care of my health & spending/investing wisely, discussing with John what constitutes “good governance” in our lives.
Moving toward the new year, what can we do individually & as a couple to develop new relationships & deepen ones we already have, what we can do to cultivate trust, how would we describe a life that’s right for us – together & separate?
Our Thanksgiving gift to y’all is a layup to help you score a slam dunk 2018 – focus on happiness. Talk to your friends, family, nearest & dearest about the qualities that make a happy nation, which also make for happy individuals. How can you ally with others in your mutual efforts to move your personal ranking closer to #1? What can you do to make your communities happier places for everyone?
Good Dane that he is, Meik Wiking congratulated his neighboring country on nabbing the #1 ranking – “Good for them. I don’t think Denmark has a monopoly on happiness. What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good.”
Praise from the master is praise indeed – Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (it was not part of the Happiness Report) & author of the best seller, The Little Book of Hygge, hits the nail on the head. What leads to happiness, as a nation, as individuals?
A sense of community and understanding in the common good. Nail those & the rest fall into place.