Happiness 101: Insights from Beyond the Borders
Written By: Pavithra Desikan

Happiness is something that everyone desires, yet it can often feel elusive. We often search for happiness in material possessions, relationships, and achievements, but true happiness comes from within. It is a state of mind that can be cultivated through intentional practices and a shift in perspective. In this article, we will explore the lessons on happiness that can be learned from diverse cultures around the world. 

Lesson 1: Embrace the Simple Life (Denmark) 

In Denmark, the concept of “Hygge” places importance on embracing a cosy, simple life. This includes spending time with loved ones, enjoying warm drinks, and engaging in calming activities like reading or knitting. By prioritizing these simple pleasures, Danes are able to maintain a sense of contentment and well-being. 

Lesson 2: Find Purpose in Community (Japan) 

The Japanese idea of “Ikigai” explains the importance of finding one’s purpose in life. This purpose is often found through connections with others and contributing to the community. By finding a sense of purpose and meaning, individuals can cultivate a sense of fulfilment and happiness. 

Lesson 3: Practice Mindfulness (Thailand) 

In Thailand, Buddhism philosophises the value of being present in the moment and practicing mindfulness. By focusing on the present moment and letting go of worries about the future or regrets about the past, people can live a life enriched by peace and a  

greater feeling of happiness and well-being. 

Lesson 4: Foster Connections (Mexico) 

In Mexico, the concept of “Familismo” accentuates the value of family and community connections. By fostering strong relationships with loved ones and neighbours, individuals are able to cultivate a sense of belonging and happiness. 

Lesson 5: Cultivate Gratitude (Greece) 

In Greece, the principle of “Filotimo” calls out the importance of showing respect and gratitude to others. By cultivating a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the people and things in one’s life, folks can augment a sense of happiness and well-being. 

Lesson 6: Live in the Moment (India) 

The Indian perception of “Karma” underlines the importance of living in the present moment and accepting what is. By letting go of attachment to outcomes and focusing on the present moment, one can develop a sense of peace and happiness. 

Lesson 7: Prioritize Self-Care (Sweden) 

In Sweden, the concept of “Lagom” emphasizes the significance of balance and moderation in all areas of life. This includes prioritizing self-care and taking time for oneself. By prioritizing self-care and finding balance in life, people can foster happiness and well-being. 

Lesson 8: Embrace Imperfection (South Africa) 

In South Africa, the idea of “Ubuntu” talks about community and interconnectedness. It also underlines the idea that individuals are imperfect and should embrace their flaws. By accepting oneself and others for who they are, people can promote a sense of happiness and self-acceptance. 

Lesson 9: Find Joy in Nature (Finland) 

The Finnish doctrine “Sisu” establishes the significance of perseverance and resilience. It also emphasizes the importance of finding joy in nature and spending time outdoors. By connecting with nature and finding joy in the outdoors, a sense of happiness and well-being is guaranteed aspect of one’s life. 

Lesson 10: Seek Adventure (Australia) 

In Australia, the concept of “Dinkum” places importance on being honest and genuine. It also emphasizes the importance of seeking adventure and taking risks. By embracing new experiences and seeking adventure, individuals can cultivate a sense of happiness and fulfilment. 

Though the specific practices and rituals may differ across cultures, the underlying principles remain the same. The lessons from around the world teach us that happiness is not just about the accumulation of material possessions or achieving external success, but rather, it is about finding purpose, meaning, and connection in life. Ultimately, cultivating happiness is a lifelong journey, and as the Dalai Lama said, “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” Let us take inspiration from the lessons shared here and take action towards cultivating happiness in our own lives. 

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