Why introverts need to live in Denmark
One of the secrets of Danish happiness - candles and proper lighting - we already discovered using Mike Viking's book about hygge, the traditional approach to life, popular in Denmark and Scandinavia. But hygge is not only cozy things, but also people with whom you feel comfortable and warm.
Spending time with other people is an important part of the Hugge, but as a researcher of happiness, I can confirm that this is one of the most important ingredients of happiness in general. All researchers and scholars working on the issues of happiness agree that social ties are vital for human well-being.
According to the World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations, “the basic factor of happiness is the compliance of the standard of living with the basic human needs, but after the basic needs are met, the level of happiness varies depending on the quality of human relationships, and not level of income. "
Awareness of the importance of human relationships even led to an attempt to evaluate them in monetary terms. A 2008 UK-based price tag for friends, relatives, and neighbors: How to use life satisfaction data to assess social relationships showed that increasing social connections lead to an increase in life satisfaction to an equivalent of 85,000 pounds per year.
Pluses close relationship
I again and again notice the direct link between relationships and happiness in both world and domestic Danish statistics. So, a few years ago, our Institute for the Study of Happiness conducted research in the city of Drageur, near Copenhagen. With the approval of the city council, we measured the level of happiness and life satisfaction among the citizens and jointly developed recommendations for improving the quality of life in the city.
Here we again found a very clear correlation. The more people are satisfied with their social relationships, the happier they are in general. As I have already noted, the relationship factor, as a rule, clearly reflects whether a person is happy or not. If I cannot directly ask a person how happy he is, I ask him how satisfied he is with his social relations, and this gives me the necessary information.
Satisfaction with the relationship as a whole is one thing, but the daily joy of communicating with a good company is completely different. And here a little light on the Hugge effect can shed the method of reconstruction of the day, developed by the Nobel laureate, psychologist Daniel Kahneman. This method offers people to re-remember their usual day and assess their mood (satisfaction, irritation, depression) during certain occupations.
In 2004, a group of scientists from Princeton, led by Dr. Kahneman, conducted a famous study that included 909 residents of Texas. Women had to make diary entries and fill out a long questionnaire, describing in detail all their activities during the previous day and evaluating each on a seven-point scale - what and when they did, who were with them, what mood they had at that time.
A group of researchers came to the conclusion (though not too surprising) that the least enjoyable activities include going to work from the suburbs, routine household chores and talking to the boss, and sex, socializing, eating and relaxing are most satisfying. Of course, communication, food and rest are also important components of the hygge.
According to the “participation hypothesis”, a person has a need to feel connected with other people, and close relationships have a significant impact on his motivation and behavior. A few facts confirming the "hypothesis of involvement": people around the world are born with the ability and motivation to form close relationships and are reluctant to break existing ties; spouses have a longer life expectancy than lonely people (although this is partly due to the strengthening of the immune system).
So, our relationship affects our well-being - this is news, thank you, Captain Obvious! Yes, as a scientist I can agree: it is annoying to spend years studying the question of why some people are happier than others, and find an answer that everyone knew from the very beginning. Nevertheless, now we have figures, data and indisputable evidence, and we can and should rely on them, developing our policy, our society and our life.
The most important social connections are close relationships when you feel that you are understood, share your thoughts and emotions, give and receive support. In other words, everything that includes the hygge.
Perhaps that is why the Danes are more fond of gathering a small circle of friends. Of course, you can spend hyggelig evening and in a large company, but still the Danes would prefer a small group. Almost 60% of Danes believe that the best company for Hugge is three or four people.
Hugge - socialization for introverts
During the collection of materials for this book, I lectured a group of students from America who came to Copenhagen for one semester. I often use lectures as an opportunity to get additional information and to look from a new angle at the issues I'm working on at the moment. This case was no exception, so I turned the discussion into a link between well-being and hygge.
One student, who was silent all the time, raised her hand. “I'm an introvert,” she said. “And for me, the hygge was a wonderful discovery.” She said that in the USA she was accustomed to crowded public events, where feverish excitement reigned and the participants often got acquainted right on the spot. In other words, there she was in the territory of extroverts. When she came to Denmark, she found that she liked the local approach to organizing communication much more, and, in her opinion, Hugge is the best thing that can happen to introverts. Hyugge gives them the opportunity to communicate without getting tired of communication.
It is known that introverts draw energy inside themselves, and extroverts receive it with the help of external stimuli. It is often considered that introverts are closed loners, and extroverts are people who should surround themselves if you want to have a good time. Introversion is often confused with shyness, and although crowded events are not suitable for everyone, and an introvert may feel over-excited and empty at the same time after a hectic party, sociable introverts still exist, as do quiet extroverts.
It may sound a bit trite, but introverts prefer to spend their “social time” on those they love, communicate with people they know well, talk about something serious, or just retire with a book and a cup of hot drink.
There is no single way to communicate, although it may seem as if some methods of communication are more correct than others. Introverts are sociable, but in their own way. They are tired of the abundance of external incentives, but this does not mean that they do not want to spend time with other people.
Hugge is a way of socialization, quite suitable for introverts, an opportunity to spend a relaxed cozy evening with a couple of friends, without a crowd of people and vigorous activity. Introvert would rather stay at home than go to a noisy party where he knows almost no one.
Hyugge helps introverts and extroverts get closer, find a compromise, and this is good news for some as well as for others. Therefore, I want to appeal to all introverts: do not feel embarrassed or consider yourself a boring person if you prefer Hyugge and everything related to it. And at the same time I want to say to all extroverts: try to light a few candles, turn on quiet music and listen to your inner introvert - at least for one evening.
Even Hyugge has cons
Communication in a close friendly circle, where everyone has known each other for a long time and knows each other well, definitely has its advantages.
But in recent years I have come to the conclusion that this social landscape also has very noticeable flaws: it is not so easy for new people to fit into it. Every person I met who moved to Denmark told me about it. It is almost impossible to enter the already established social circles. At best, this will take years of patience and hard work.
Indeed, the Danes are not too willing to invite newcomers to their friendly companies. In part, this is due to the concept of the Hugge itself: if there are suddenly too many new faces at the meeting, it will no longer be considered hyggeligt. Therefore, in order to enter the social circle, it takes a lot of effort, and in the process you can feel very lonely more than once.
But not everything is so bad: as my friend Jon says, “since you have been received, you have been received”. If you succeed, you can be sure that this is a lifelong friendship.