“What’s with the candle?” my significant other asked as he sat down at the dinner table.
“Oh – it’s something they do in Denmark!” I replied.
Yes indeedy, it’s something the Danes do on a regular basis.
In fact, the Danes are so into lighting candles, the soot has become a concern.
As well as the sometimes inadvertently lit fires which cause some damage.
But the world is watching with intent.
Because whatever the Danes are doing, it is somehow making them among the Happiest People On The Planet.
And it has become something of an obsession, it seems.
With me, anway.
I have realized that a lot of their happiness may well come from something called “hygge.”
A funny looking and sounding word which essentially means “cozy.”
The Canadian equivalent may be “homey.”
And the Danes apparently have the market cornered.
As a country which spends 17 hours in darkness during the winter, they have learned a little about how to not just survive, but thrive.
And the candle plays a key part – because the low and warm and cozy light that it emits contributes to the hygge.
Inviting. Stay awhile. Snuggle up in a chair with a good book and a cup of coffee.
In fact, Danish designers took it one step further and came up with some beautiful lamps and lighting fixtures that diffuse soft light and have become an iconic symbol of electric hygge.
The hydro bill be damned.
And paying high taxes takes on a whole new meaning.
In Denmark, high taxes are the norm. But people do not mind paying them, it seems. In fact, they are delighted to pay them. Because it helps towards the greater good of society. It helps with health care, education, unemployment insurance, chld care. A welfare state, if you will, for a greater welfare of all of its population.
What a paradigm shift.
What a way to think differently.
A slight shift in attitude makes all the difference.
The Danes feel their country has their back.
Will catch them if they fall.
They feel a greater sense of trust in the system.
And who wouldn’t be happier with that!
Knowing that you would be safeguarded if the wheels fell off.
I can’t help but compare that to Canada.
We also pay high taxes, and many people are bitter about it.
Not thinking about the greater good, the bigger picture and all that.
Which brings me to another Danish thing.
Order. Schedules. Tradition. And rules.
Apparently, the Danes love them.
It keeps things going because they know what to expect.
And what is expected of them.
There is some sense to that.
It is anti-chaotic. Anti-anarchy.
They are able to look forward to things because they are on the schedule. Because it is tradition.
And everyone sticks to the rules for the benefit of everyone else.
They are thinking outside their little box of one.
But are they selfish?
They are all human, after all.
And apparently the divorce rate in Denmark is quite high.
But perhaps that contributes to their happiness?
A point to ponder.
Work and life balance is also an art among the Danes.
Work-a-holic is not in their dictionary.
If you are working past 5 o’clock, something is rotten in Denmark!
Family time, leisure time, sports and activities time, social time, is all as important as working time, if not moreso.
Clubs and associations abound.
Groups and gatherings are not just the norm, but expected.
Perhaps that has something to do with why they are rated among the Happiest People on the Planet!
And finally, there is a sense of equality amongst all of the population.
It seems doctors and garbage men socialize and there is little ranking in terms of career or placement in society.
What a great way to think and be!
To have an absence of class, if you will.
To rank equal amongst one’s peers and neighbours and friends and family and society.
So, perhaps the Danes are onto something.
If so, we could all learn a lesson or two.