By Brett Coffman, Ph.D., CFP®, ACFBA, EA
In 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 65/309 “Happiness: Towards a holistic approach to development.” National governments were invited to "give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development."
In 2022, the tenth annual World Happiness Report and resulting themes was published. Respondents from 150 countries were asked to answer survey questions about their lives on a scale of 0 to 10., resulting in a measure of happiness by country. Using the Gallup World Poll, six traditional categories were measured: levels of income, healthy life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption/social trust. In addition, this year categories were added for harmony and balance.
Scandinavian countries have tended to have the highest ratings for happiness. This year, Finland had the highest rating, followed by Denmark. The U.S. ranked 16th. With the consistently high ratings of Scandinavian countries, one may ask, “what is it about their lifestyle or culture makes them happier?” This is especially interesting because Scandinavia is no tropical paradise, nor is it a tax haven.
It turns out the Danish may have the secrets of living happily and they call it Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), a Norwegian term meaning well-being. Although, there is not a precise translation, a close meaning would be the feeling of being cozy. Like Yoga, it is a practice of well-being. In, The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, a researcher at the Happiness Research Institute, identified 10 independent hygge elements:
We are rushed. There are more things to get done than hours in the day. We are surrounded by 24 hour news and advertising clamoring for our attention. It is easy to find ourselves spending the most amount of time doing the least important things. On the other hand, it can be tough to find time to do the things that are most important and spend the time we really need with the people that matter the most. Yet, according to hygge, the best predictor of happiness is our social relationships.
At Resilience Wealth Advisors, we have realized that helping people practice hygge is a critical part of planning. Taking the burden of ensuring someone is on a clear financial path toward goals is foundational to provide peace of mind, freeing them to focus less on worry and more on the elements of hygge.