How To Create Happiness Through Writing Stuff Down

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There’s immense power in writing things down. It’s very easy to think about our hopes and dreams, or positive and negative emotions but in the act of writing them down, our brain is forced to process the feelings more intentionally. It’s this process that can generate a type of therapy or create a sense of excitement within us that helps towards that all-important happiness.

There are several ways the power of writing things down can increase our happiness.

Keeping a Gratitude Journal – The combination of writing and feeling gratitude is extremely powerful. The act of doing this allows us to think back through our day in a positive way. Our brains are wired to look for the negative in order to survive and keep us safe so we need to make that extra effort to think about the positive aspects. Physically writing our blessings down means you’re able to look back over what you’ve written and further make you realise the wonderful things currently in your life. So each night write out the best thing that happened to you that day (even if it’s as simple as a free coffee or a smile from a stranger!) and then list out 10 more things you were grateful for happening. Keep this up and you will feel it getting easier and easier to find things to be grateful for 🙂

Lists – We can often feel overwhelmed with the amount of things we need to do each day so writing these tasks down is a wonderful way of organising them in our mind. Crossing each one off helps the feeling of productivity and raises your feel-good worthy vibes.

Writing Out Affirmations – Each morning get out a pen and paper and write out a few meaningful affirmations and use them as your mantras throughout the day: I am worthy, I am loved, I am a successful person, I am capable of anything! Keep them in your wallet, write them on your mirror, or stick them on a post-it note to act as reminders. Take the time to really think about what you need to hear from yourself – it may feel corny as you write them out, but they feed you that little bit of positive reinforcement throughout your day and slowly creates a more positive mindset from within rather than validation from other people.

Keep a Daily Journal – You might associate journals with teenage girls but journal-keeping has come a long way since the 80s! Writing down how you feel is a good therapy session. If it’s negative it can help get it in the open because physically writing it out and re-reading can give you further perspective on the subject. It allows you to really reflect on why you feel that way and find a way to change it. You can also just use a journal to set out your positive intentions for the day and helps keep tabs on your productivity keeping you aligned with your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. I personally use The Daily Greatness Journal but even just getting a plain notebook and doing it ad hoc is still very powerful.

Writing things down helps with awareness. Most of the time we’re on autopilot and don’t structure our daily routines. This means we aren’t always being mindful of how we live our lives. By writing things down, we can start to understand how we think, why we think the things we do, challenge these perspectives, know ourselves better and see the world in a more positive light. So get out that pen and paper and harness the power of writing things out 🙂

 

 

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10 Things Dogs Can Teach Us About Happiness

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There’s a lot that man’s best friend can teach us. Not only are they loyal companions but they have the ability to be mindful in the moment. This means less overthinking, less negative emotions and more appreciation for the world around them.

Here are 10 things we can learn from our canine companions!

  1. Enjoy the Present Moment. Dog’s are simple creatures which is probably the main secret to living a happy life. They’re able to focus on one thing at a time and enjoy it whether it’s a nap, eating their dinner or their morning walk. They can go from sleeping one minute to barking at the postman the next showing the ability to let go and move on from each moment and being present in each one of them.
  2. Don’t Hold Grudges and Love Unconditionally. As humans, it’s easy to hold grudges and judge others for their actions but this only comes from our fragile ego. Dogs, however, even when they’re left for a few hours, don’t hold it against you. Instead they’re more focused on being happy to be reunited with wagging tail and nothing but love.
  3. Celebrate Success. Acknowledging our successes is really important to leading a happy life and dogs do this all the time. Doing what their owner tells them to and getting a treat for it is their way of celebrating a positive success.
  4. Be Excited About the Little Things As Much As The Big Things. A walk, a new person, a bit of chicken, seeing you come home, a different smell – it’s an endless attitude of gratitude in a dog’s mind. Being thankful and finding the wonder in the small things is what happiness is all about.
  5. Trust. Dogs put their entire trust and faith in us to look after them and they do it with endless love. There’s no doubt or judgement in our capabilities which is something many of us struggle to do with each other. Having a little more faith in others builds a better connection and less resentment in relationships.
  6. They Show Themselves Compassion. When dogs are tired they’ll sleep. This may seem obvious but how many of us will work ourselves to exhaustion not looking after our health and minds. Dogs know what’s best for them and they do it because they instinctively rarely go against their needs for optimum survival.
  7. Don’t Judge Others. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your skin colour is, your religion or what job you have (unless maybe you’re a vet!) a dog doesn’t care or judge. They see everyone as the same. Dogs feed off peoples’ energy just like us but humans sometimes let preconceived ideas get in the way too. We all need to be more like a dog and be more accepting.
  8. Mindfulness. Dogs are so in tune to everything around them whether it’s a leaf falling or a squirrel running across the garden. They are aware and mindful of what’s going on and usually without the overthinking and hundreds of distractions we have. Mindfulness is another important key to being present in the moment and appreciating one thing at a time.
  9. They Enjoy The Journey. We’ve all been told happiness is the journey not the destination and dogs are a great example of this. They don’t tell themselves that they’ll be happy once they get to the park. They are enjoying the car ride there, the getting ready to go, the anticipation of knowing the park will eventually turn up. They enjoy each moment right up until they see that park through the car window. This is what a happy life is all about.
  10. Don’t Take Things So Seriously. Dogs live like every day is their last. They will have fun, spend hours playing with a stick or an old tennis ball – they aren’t worrying about what they’ll be doing tomorrow. Fun is the aim of their life.

We can’t all live a dog’s life but we can learn from how they choose to perceive the world around them and inject more of these principles into our attitude and daily habits. Next time you see a dog, let it be a reminder to you to be more like them!

The 7 Deadly Happiness Sins: What We Should Avoid

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I was a bit hesitant on writing a post about the things people do wrong when it comes to happiness – I’d rather write about the mindsets and perspectives we should adopt to live a happier life – but I think sometimes it can be easier to spot what we aren’t quite doing rather than be told what we should be doing! 🙂

As humans, we can sometimes get into habits that we pick up from an early age or we can be easily influenced by what our parents think or thought, what society thinks or just general opinions that people we come across have.

1. Devaluing happiness

There’re so many articles about how to be happy that a lot of it has become quite cliché. We can roll our eyes and dismiss it all. But in doing this we can devalue the potential of creating happiness in our lives. Our ideas of happiness can be misunderstood – happiness comes in the form of the big achievements rather than in the walk to work or the conversation we had with the postman or neighbour. By doing this, we’re never really that happy and we devalue happiness in the process. Never find yourself in a position where you feel happiness is overrated and you should just accept the crap going on in your life. This will just keep you from experiencing the joy of happiness altogether.

2. The need to be superior to others

How many times have you argued with someone and you have the overwhelming urge to be right. You absolutely have to prove that they’re wrong! This comes from a place of superiority. Accept that everyone essentially thinks they’re right. Accept that what you think isn’t ‘better’ than someone else. Everyone has different perspectives based on their life experiences – let it go. Recognising that trying to prove your point is essentially, well, pointless! It only generates feelings of frustration and lessens your happiness.

3. The need to be loved

We all want to be loved but the problem comes when we feel we need to be loved. This indicates a lack of self-love within ourselves because if we truly think we’re awesome there is no need to be loved because you already feel it. If you feel this need to be loved you may want to look at possible low self-worth issues or the idea that you’re not enough unless you’re loved by people. Happiness comes from within and this starts with the love you have for yourself.

4. Being overly controlling

The need to control, again, comes from a lack of self-worth. You feel that things must be a certain way for you to be happy. But true happiness comes when you release control and be happy with whatever the outcome will be. Once you do this you instantly feel more at peace and realise by controlling outside factors you were actually restricting your own ability to be happy.

5. Lack of trust in others

We do live in a untrusting society but this doesn’t mean we have to buy into being untrusting ourselves. The majority of people are honest and sincere at their core. Believing otherwise stops you from experiencing that trust and also stops the other person experiencing being trusted. It’s a wonderful feeling to choose to believe you can rely on other people to do something without worrying. Learn to trust and your happiness will grow.

6. Lack of trust in life

Faith is massive when it comes to happiness and by ‘faith’ I’m not necessarily talking in a religious sense. Trusting the direction of your life and believing whatever happens is for your higher good in the long run will give you that sense of peace that comes with being happy. The problem comes when we spend precious time worrying that our life isn’t how it should be or we must be doing something wrong every time something ‘seemingly’ goes bad. Relax and trust it’s ultimately all good.

7. Ignoring your inner-energy

We are extremely powerful beings. Our thoughts shape our beliefs which, in turn, shape our lives. We have the ability to change how we think. We have the ability to change our beliefs and our mindsets. We have gut feelings that steer us in the right direction if only we wouldn’t ignore them. Dismissing our inner-energy and walking around disconnected with it, is a sure-fire way to know you’re not reaching your full happiness potential. Meditating even for a few minutes a day can help you connect with your own unlimited supply of happiness. Everything you need to be happy is found within you.

 

 

Why Feeling Sorry For Yourself Is So Destructive For Your Happiness

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Life is full of ups and downs and the way in which we react to them are very different depending on our mindsets. But something we can all be guilty of is feeling sorry for ourselves.

While it’s normal, natural and healthy to feel our negative emotions to a situation, when it becomes too persistent and prolonged – even a habit – then it can have a detrimental effect on our happiness and well-being.

Do any of these describe you?

  • You tend to complain about life not being fair
  • You feel like you always have bad luck in life
  • You often think and feel the world or other people are out to get you
  • You think people who have great lives are the ‘lucky ones’
  • You struggle to find anything to be truly grateful for

As human beings, we are always drawn to the easier route and in this case it’s easier to feel sorry for ourselves than to pick ourselves up and face our problems. We can let our overwhelming feelings of pity get in the way of moving forward, creating a better mindset and better perspectives.

The problem with this is, we never really allow ourselves to reach our true potential of happiness.

It can blind you to the good that is right there in front of your face. You can push people away with constant ‘glass half empty’ chatter because, sometimes without knowing it, negativity can spread like wildfire to others around you.

None of us are perfect and we all throw ourselves a pity party every once in a while but to be more consistent in our personal discovery of happiness it’s really important to make a conscious effort to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and move forward.

More often than not, negative emotions will breed more and more creating an everlasting circle and it’ll become a destructive habit. We believe it takes too much effort to start changing our thoughts, beliefs and perspectives  – that they’re too ingrained in us and something we have no control over – but it’s not true and to change our thoughts is never as hard as you think it is.

Next time you notice a prolonged period of time where you feel nothing ever goes right for you, just stop and take note of it. Make a conscious choice to see the opposite perspective. The people out there who are ‘lucky’ are no different to you and me other than the way they choose to see the world.

Make your happiness a choice…it’s not always something that just magically appears but does needs cultivating and consistent habits in order to achieve it 🙂

Do You Focus Too Much On Lack?

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I think we can all be guilty of this. When life isn’t quite going our way we focus on just that – that life is not going our way! What about what is going our way?

It’s become a bit of a cliché when it comes to happiness – be grateful and appreciate what you have in life – it goes over our head because we’ve heard it a million times and we stop applying it to our own lives.

But there’s great power in how you focus. There are times in life when everything is moving along perfectly and there are times when, well, it just isn’t. However, the way in which you step back and look at what is going on – the bigger picture – really can be the difference between feeling positive and just feeling crappy.

If your life is taking a turn or you are struggling to see how life is good try to steer away from focusing on the lack.

Our minds are naturally drawn to focus on lack and what we don’t currently have in our lives that we would like to have. If we want the perfect job but feel we don’t have it, we may focus on our current job and what’s wrong with it like the annoying boss and the boring work, but instead try and focus on what’s good about it. Maybe your commute is short and trouble-free, you have fun colleagues, the pay is enough to deal with your bills. The more you focus on the good things about a situation that’s less than ideal, the more you can cope with it.

Remember every situation is temporary and we’re continually moving forward. When we focus on the better things, our mind fights us and thinks we’re trying to accept a situation we hate and thinking about the negative aspects is somehow helping us, that focusing on what’s not there but wish was is somehow going to help us change the situation – but it’s not!

Focusing on the abundance rather than the lack isn’t about giving in. It isn’t about  just accepting the situation and desperately trying to be happy about it. It’s not about accepting it’ll never change; it’s about changing your inner thoughts which, in turn, will gradually change your level of happiness. It’s when you’re in this better state of happiness that you’ll be in a better state for moving forward and inspired action will present itself to you – that perfect job will suddenly appear in the strangest of ways!

So next time you find yourself focusing on something you don’t have like a relationship, perfect job, perfect house or enough money, try to change your thinking to that of abundance – the love of your friends and family, a job that pays the bills for now, a roof over your head (maybe a small one but a roof all the same!) and the money to buy you what you need.

Remember focusing on abundance is about putting that monkey mind at ease and allowing it to enter a more positive state that will go towards opening up paths to new opportunities that frustration, apathy and depression from focusing on lack can block.

So perhaps try noticing how much you focus on lack and change your perspective to that of abundance. Make it a conscious, consistent habit and start seeing the positive changes to your happiness 🙂

 

Why Making Comparisons Is Ruining Your Happiness

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How many times have you compared your life to those around you and felt that panic or overwhelming dissatisfaction for your present circumstances? You feel like you’re not at the stage you were meant to be or you’ve somehow fallen behind in life while they are exactly where you want to be.

I believe no one is alone in feeling this. With current social media exposing us to every nook and cranny of people’s lives, it’s hard not to notice and compare our journey to others.

But comparing ourselves to others hinders our happiness in so many ways.

Remember that everyone is potentially going through a battle we don’t know about. Don’t judge or compare your life to someone else’s seemingly ‘happy and perfect’ life because you don’t know what they are truly going through. They may have it all or have what you want to have but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy.

Don’t take social media at face value. People are extremely willing to put up the best bits of their life on social media especially Facebook or Instagram which gives the impression on the outside that this is the sum total of their life – happy and carefree. What you don’t know is the possible depression they are secretly battling with or their own dissatisfaction with life. This is why we can’t ever take social media at face value as we’re only seeing people’s highlight reels – it’s not a true representation of reality.

Always remember that our negative thoughts and feelings aren’t real. When you get these feelings when comparing yourself to others it’s kind of illogical – you can’t compare yourself to someone else because they are on a completely different path to you despite what you may think.

The comparison game never stops. The main reason we compare is because we are unhappy with our own lives. The key to combating comparison is to simply be more relaxed and happy with the way our lives are because even if you achieved the life others have, there will always be something else to be unhappy with.

Comparison just kills your focus and own happiness. Comparison is just a distraction from your own wonderful journey in life. So what if it’s not the same as hers or his? By focusing on others you aren’t focusing on yourself which is far more important.

See your unhappiness as a stop on your journey to happiness. Making comparisons are a sign of our own unhappiness. It happens to the best of us but just trust that this is where you’re meant to be in the present moment. Everyone is at different stages in both life and happiness and you are where you’re meant to be. Trust you will get where you need to be to be happy when it’s your time.

Finally, you don’t know what happiness means to other people. Just because being successful in your career is your definition of happiness doesn’t mean it is for someone else. Always keep this in mind when making assumptions of other people.

It’s so important to focus on your own happiness and stop being concerned with those around you. Yes, it’s not always easy to do, but taking steps to concentrate on the appreciation you have for your current life – no matter what stage you’re at –  will attract the things you want into your life and be happy with them.

Remember, your happiness is personal to you and no one else 🙂

Do We Get Happier As We Get Older?

Today is my birthday…hurrah! It got me thinking about happiness and age – specifically do we get happier as we get older?

Happiness tends to be positively linked with age and there has been a plethora of scientific research that has delved into the answer to this question.

It seems happiness is intrinsically associated with youth and youth means opportunity, excitement, health and the start of the life journey. Yes, we have more energy and future hope but I don’t think this necessarily equals being more happy. Youth brings more mistakes that cause us to feel lost and confused. Societal pressure to have your life going in the right direction can cause stress and feelings of failure if it doesn’t work out the way you expect.

We’re happier when we’ve accomplished our major goals. Many studies have shown that happiness becomes more prevalent in our lives when we’ve completed the goals we’ve set ourselves. This causes us to float along in life more contently and happily because we no longer have to strive for the big things we want out of life. This isn’t to say we stop working towards goals but we do this in a more laid-back, ‘along for the ride’ attitude.

We appreciate things more when we’re older and appreciation plays a huge role in happiness. Gratitude and appreciation is a major factor in the achievement of happiness and with the increase of age comes the increase in appreciation. It’s been found that although identity in youth is formed through experiences such as travelling, falling in love (several times), and general thrill-seeking, as we get older we find identity is found in everyday, simple pleasures and with this comes more contentedness.

With wisdom comes happiness. Every year we get older we add our lifetime experiences to our sense of self. We learn from what we’ve done and fine-tune our ideas, beliefs, understandings and apply this to life going forward. The wisdom we develop adds to our happiness as we realise others opinions don’t matter so much or how much money we make isn’t ultimately as important in making us happy as loved ones do.

We have a greater sense of acceptance as we get older. We resist less as we get older. When we’re younger we tend to want to control circumstances that are mostly outside of our control. With this brings frustration and sense of failure if it doesn’t go our way. Age allows us to accept our situations for what they are and being happy with them. This is where appreciation and feeling content with how things are ups our happiness levels.

So turning a year older, whatever your age, shouldn’t be approached with apprehension and reluctance. Be safe in the knowledge that your happiness is most likely going to rise to whole new levels 🙂

If you’re interested, here’s a great TedxTalk about age and happiness:

 

 

International Day of Happiness!

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Today is International Day of Happiness! The 20th March every year is the day that the United Nations have officially elected to be a day of happiness and to acknowledge that every person has a right to be happy and to experience happiness in their life.

Of course, happiness shouldn’t be experienced on one day just like all the other official or unofficial days throughout the year but it is a lovely reminder that happiness is out there 🙂

I thought I’d list the objectives listed on the U.N’s website as I think it sums up what the Day of Happiness represents 🙂

  • Do What Makes You Happy

Smile, share, eat healthily, exercise, be grateful, give back, think positively, spend some time with friends and family, spend some time alone, be mindful, dream, listen to music, say thank you and mean it, compete, be charitable, say “all the more” instead of “nonetheless” – you get it. Do what makes you happy.

  • Spread Happiness

While you’re doing whatever it is you do that makes you happy, don’t forget to do whatever you can do to make others happy! Happiness is contagious. A simple smile can make even a stranger’s day much brighter. You’ve seen the Coca-Cola commercial, right? It’s not a gimmick. Watch it; you will smile! Spread happiness.

  • Tell Everybody

There are more than 7,300,000,000 (that’s 7.3 BILLION+) people on this planet. Each one of them has the right to happiness, and not all of them know it. Tell them. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbours, your co-workers, and your boss – hold your government accountable for securing your happiness. Tell yourself, and remind yourself: happiness is a fundamental human right, and happiness for all is a fundamental human goal. Tell everybody.

  • Celebrate The International Day of Happiness

Article 2 of UN Resolution 66/281: International Day of Happiness

Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate awareness-raising activities.

Celebrate the International Day of Happiness.
Every March 20th, forever.

  • Support Campaigners

Since the International Day of Happiness was established in 2012, thousands of happiness initiatives all over the world have emerged to celebrate and promote its values. Happiness Day’s annually increasing success is due in every way to the organic uprising of mission-based organizations including NGOs, government programs, private sector marketing campaigns, and community-based movements. Support our campaign partners.

 

So go out today and do at least one thing that makes you happy and if you feel inclined, let me know what that is 😉

 

The Happy Documentary :)

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As a sucker for a good documentary, I sat down the other day and watched The Happy Movie. I realised I was a bit late in seeing this as it was made in 2012 but what an eye-opener it is. If anyone hasn’t seen this and has an interest in what makes a happy life and likes a bit of science thrown in to back it up, I would completely recommend this.

It’s a wonderful documentary that gives a fascinating look at the science behind happiness – following people from all walks of life from the slums of Kolkata to Tokyo and seeing who is happy and what elements in our lives create this widely sought-after emotion. I think you can probably guess what these are but if you have a spare 1hr 15 mins then it really is worth a watch (I’ve posted the trailer below) 🙂

“The formula for happiness is not the same for everyone, but the good news is that the things we love to do are the building blocks of a happy life: play, having new experiences, friends and family, doing things that are meaningful, appreciating what we have – these are the things that make us happy and they’re free. With happiness, the more you have, the more everyone has.”

 

The Happy Norway Way: What We Can Learn From The Norwegian Mindset

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The hot, smoggy metropolis of Beijing (a far cry from Norway – a quiet and cold country with a very small population) was where I encountered my first Norwegians. I was teaching English in China and I was pleasantly surprised by their friendly nature and near perfect grasp of the English language. Fast forward a year and I found myself living in the city of Trondheim on the west coast of Norway. For the next three years I was immersed in the Norwegian culture, making Norwegian friends and attempting to learn their language (albeit badly!)

For the past 12 years, Norway has been voted the best country to live in and Norwegians being some of the happiest people in the world. From what I’ve learnt about my time living there and the observations I made, I want to share why I think this is and how they’ve seemingly got it so right in the happy stakes.

Many people would say that yes, it’s easy to be happy in Norway because they’re such a rich country but this hasn’t always been the case. The Norwegian culture has been carved out of a history of survival; living in difficult, isolated landscape and working hard to live in these extreme conditions with little money. All the while fostering basic principles of fairness and equality that lives on today.

Norwegians are big on their equality both with gender and society. There are almost no social classes which, in contrast to the UK where I’m from, is a breath of fresh air. There is something called the Law of Jante, a concept created by Aksel Sandemose that critises individual success, and expressions of achievement are deemed inappropriate – basically you should see your achievements as a collective not as an individual. Although not taken to an extreme in Scandinavian countries, I think this has enriched the quiet modesty that is ingrained in the Norwegian character. A rich Norwegian is seen as on the same level as someone relatively poorer. This pretty much eradicates the prejudice and social problems that occur in many other countries.

Gender equality is high. It is not unusual to see women builders, bus drivers, carpenters and engineers – roles that in many countries are seen as dominantly male. Norway was also the pioneer in paternity leave for men. Men and women have 48 weeks paid leave that both are encouraged to take.

There is a strong emphasis on teamwork. Especially in the smaller villages and towns, you regularly come across local groups coming together and volunteering for community projects just from the joy of it and sense of community it brings.

Nature plays a huge part in the lives of Norwegians. With stunning mountains, fjords and northern lights there is no end to the beautiful nature around them. Because of this, their lives are revolved around hiking, skiing and trips to their back-to-basics cabins in the mountain or the forest where a Norwegian is probably at his happiest. They don’t just make this an annual thing, they make this a way of life and regularly indulge their time doing what makes them the most happy.

The weather in Norway is not to everyone’s taste. The winters can be ferocious and even in Trondheim, it could get down to -25 degrees. As a foreigner, I can’t say I found this the most enjoyable time but it’s pretty rare to find a Norwegian that complains. Snow is what they look forward to for 6 months of the year and when it comes it’s welcomed with open arms. Kids at school happily go out to play in minus degree weather all kitted out in their snowsuits and thermals. You may have heard the Norwegian saying there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing and I think this is something I took away with me. No more will I be a complaining Brit wearing next to nothing in the middle of winter and wondering why the hell I’m so cold. And no weather will interfere with a Norwegian’s day, whether it’s sun, rain, ice or snow they will still be out walking, exercising and enjoying it.

Norwegians themselves are very friendly, humble and laid-back people. Although they can come across quiet, serious and maybe even unfriendly to our standards when they encounter people they don’t know, once you break past that, you can guarantee they will become a great loyal friend. Ask any favour and they will be happy to do it. I can honestly say, some of the nicest and most genuine people I know are Norwegian.

So what can we take away from this? A sense of community, an appreciation for nature and surroundings, family values, equality and a genuine humble character are all attributes that can make up a happy society and a happy life. The Norwegian mindset is ingrained and has been transient through a time where Norway has been relatively poor to oil-rich. Yes, they have more money and the standards of living have increased dramatically over the last few decades but their sense of hard work, appreciation of their humble beginnings and proudness of their country both as a society and a thing of beauty, has barely changed at all.

Obviously, there will always be positive and negative elements to living in a country but I think Norway has managed to outweigh the bad with the good. And culture is deep-rooted and developed over time so we can’t, as a society, change quickly and mimic that of another but we can take elements of the Norwegian mindset and apply it to our own lives. At the heart of it, they just seem to be truly grateful for the simple pleasures in life and appreciate their surroundings, friends, family and community which I believe we can all incorporate to create a more positive and happier life 🙂