“We should be the happiest people on the face of the earth!” is Ellen White’s encouragement when she refers to us as Christians. She talks about the health benefits of happiness: “If the mind is free and happy, from a consciousness of rightdoing and a sense of satisfaction in causing happiness to others, it creates a cheerfulness that will react upon the whole system, causing a freer circulation of the blood and toning up the entire body”.
Since The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well first came out, it has been making waves across the blogosphere. The author of the book, Meik Wiking, is the Director of the Institute of Research for Happiness in Copenhagen, and he has spent years studying the secrets of Danish people’s happiness, considered to be among the happiest nation in the world. The book proves the importance of the little things and the need to create an adequate atmosphere, which induces the state of happiness. There is a lot to say in regards to the significance of hygge and anyone has the possibility to get “trained” in this field through the respective book and online materials. The ideas are interesting and highlight some of our difficult moments, especially for those of us who do not know how to get relief from tension. But, as with anything else, there is also hyperbole, which brings us down to earth again: you cannot obsess about happiness – happiness no matter what – because in doing so you have just turned your search for happiness – into your unhappiness.
A person who ruins someone else’s pleasure or joy is called in the Danish language lyseslukker, which literally translates to “the one who extinguishes the candles”. I will now be a kind of lyseslukker, not because I don’t understand people’s desire to live in a pleasant atmosphere, but because I would like all of us to have a wonderful atmosphere, without the negative consequences.
A decisive component of hygge is lighting candles. According to the European Association for Candles, Denmark has more candles per capita than any other European country. Every Dane lights about 6 kg of candle wax, every year. This means twice as much as the country coming in second, Austria, with 3.16 kg, every year. Only 4% of Danes say that they have never lit candles, according to a study carried out by one of Denmark’s leading newspapers.
Regardless of how hyggeligt they may be, lighting candles has a real inconvenience: smoke. Studies show that just one lit candle issues more micro-particles in the air than the traffic on a crowded street. A study of the Danish Institute for Research in Constructions showed that candles issue more particles within the house than cigarettes and cooking. There are ads about the much loved hygge light sources and each of us should acknowledge the importance of ventilating a room after burning candles.
I don’t want to get anyone upset with these details. (I also use candles, usually the scented ones, which anyway the Danish reject within the hygge concept!) On the contrary: I want to support those searching for happiness in the little things that can make an incredibly enchanting atmosphere. With this example, I wished to draw attention to what we can do to get happy.
An entire nation exaggerates with candles, which are not always safe. The things which offer us well-being can be wonderful, as well as the atmosphere that the candles create, but be careful! There can also be negative consequences! We should keep our eyes open. Maybe we should avoid them or completely stop using them.
Of course, happiness is our daily purpose, but what’s the price we pay for it?