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How to be happy: 7 ways to improve your quality of life, from the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 19/03/2019 Meik Wiking
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Living in Denmark has taught me that while we can all learn a lot from the Scandinavian countries when it comes to quality of life, we can find lessons in happiness from people across the globe.

The keys to happiness are buried around the world, and we can incorporate these into our everyday lives.

My job as the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen is to uncover the secrets of happiness. We explore the causes of human happiness and attempt to spread good ideas across the world.

Here are seven ways to be more happy from around the globe.

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1. Take your street and turn it into a community

We know that our sense of belonging and togetherness has a big effect on our happiness. Make the effort to speak to your neighbours. Set up a mini-library or a small urban garden which can be the root of the community.

2. Build more movement into your daily routine

Take the stairs, have a meeting while going for a walk or park as far away from the supermarket entrance as possible.

3. Establish a free fun fellowship

See if you can decouple wealth from well-being. Form a free-fun fellowship with your family or friends in which each person takes it in turns to plan an inexpensive activity for the group.

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4. Train your empathy muscle

Read literary fiction, join a charity, or move beyond your normal social circles to get a better understanding of other peoples´ behaviour and situation.

5. Introduce no phone Fridays (or whatever day of the week suits you)

If you have kids, you properly experience the difficulties is getting them to turn off their devices. In part, this is because all of their friends are on them. Therefore, try to organise ”critical analogue mass” at the local community level – your street or the kids classmates – where nobody uses their devices for the same period – so they have someone to play with – but without the devices.

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6. Start talking about mental health

Next time you ask someone how they are doing, have a real interest in their answer, and do not accept ‘fine’. If you are concerned for someone a question like ”I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing?” may start the conversation.

7. Create a greater sense of freedom at work

Introduce concepts like ”quiet Tuesday mornings” at work where you carve out three hours every Tuesday morning with no interruptions (no meetings, no phone calls, no emails, no managers asking for status reports) are allowed.

Gallery: 24 easy habits that psychologists have linked with health and happiness [Business Insider]

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