Experts Reveal The Key To Happiness

Happiness is one of those elusive traits that some people seem to have in droves, while other people struggle to muster even a little. But happiness, as it turns out, is actually more of a learned behavior. Conditions like depression have their own effects, of course, but it is still possible to cultivate the habit of happiness.

Every year, the World Happiness Report gathers information from a huge range of sources and sifts through them all to find out which countries have the happiest populations. And almost without fail the top countries are always those in the Scandinavian and northern European regions. These include Finland, Denmark, and Norway, among others. And the thing that sets these countries apart, according to Meik Wiking, is simple pleasures.

Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. When interviewed by Health in 2020, he explained that the Danish and their neighbors all valued the simple things in life.

"Our lives consist of these tiny moments, one after the other. That's how we build our stories and a sense of self. The tiny moments are actually the big things in life."

The habit of happiness

Of course, valuing the little things in life is easier said than done. Most media revolves around big events, as do our calendars. Holidays, weddings, and birthdays all get much more attention than, say, a weekly coffee with your best friend. But that weekly coffee might just be what you remember most, ten years down the line.

Action for Happiness, an organization dedicated to increasing happiness around the world, explains that the small moments in life are often what matter most. When we want 'more,' their site says, what we really want is more meaning. And the easiest way to find that is to really pay attention to what is going on around us and engage with the moment instead of looking for the next thing.

This means that when you're out to coffee with a friend, focus on how good the coffee in front of you tastes instead of picking out your order for next week. Focus on the way you and your friend are sitting in relation to each other and how that makes your body feel. If you're slumped over, adjust your posture. See if your friend's body language can give away more about what they're feeling. If you're outside, take in the benefits of nature.

This sort of mindfulness takes time to cultivate. But as you grow the skill, you'll find that little things make you happier, things you would have overlooked before. How good clean sheets feel or how warm your living room looks in late afternoon sun. Happiness, it turns out, is in the little things. So long as you know how to look.