What is happiness? And how can we be happy? These questions are integral to the human experience, but their answers can be elusive. We can apply several perspectives to approach them, through philosophy or psychology, for instance. We can also use our personal view of our feelings and goals as we navigate through life. But can we bring a scientific approach to happiness?
Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, believes we can. The institute combines qualitative and quantitative methods to provide insights on well-being, happiness, and the quality of life.
Its mission? To inform decision-makers in companies and communities of the causes and effects of happiness, and, in turn, make subjective well-being part of the public policy debate on a local, national, and international level.
We caught up with Meik Wiking at TNW 2022 and asked him the big questions around happiness. If you’d like to get his insights in full, check out the video embedded at the top of this article. Alternatively, you can watch it right here.
“Happiness is a dish with many different ingredients on it,” Wiking told us. “It’s about experiencing positive emotions on a daily basis, being satisfied with life overall, and having a strong sense of purpose or meaning.”
Above all, happiness is an emotion, Wiking explained, and as such it’s subjective. This means that individual perceptions of it vary, making each person the only judgeof whether they’re happy or not.
So what can we do to cultivate this emotion and be happier? Wiking suggests there’s an ABC in happiness as well. A stands for “act,” B stands for “belong,” and C stands for “commit.” In other words, these are the three steps: doing something active, doing something together with other people, and doing something meaningful.
But is happiness only a matter of perception or do external circumstances also play a role? And is it possible for the whole world to be happier?
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