Wiking (The Little Book of Hygge), Danish research associate for the World Database of Happiness, brings a fresh policy angle to the well-worn happiness (in Danish, lykke) theme in this mélange of anecdote, self-help suggestions, research studies, and political argument. He helpfully distinguishes between happiness’s affective, or momentary, dimension and its cognitive, or long-term, one, emphasizing the latter. The author identifies the fundamentals of cognitive happiness as togetherness, money, freedom, health, trust, and kindness. In the section on money, for example, he cites studies as showing that the wealthiest nations are not necessarily the happiest, because societies have to know how to “turn wealth into well-being.” High inequality of income, even in a wealthy country such as the U.S., makes people unhappy. Nordic countries like his own are happier, he writes, because “wide public support for a high level of taxation means a good return on quality of life.” His conclusions in other sections are fuzzier and less actionable, such as “eat like the French” in “Togetherness” or “be more Amelie” in “Kindness.” Readers who strongly support government’s role in enhancing the health of citizens, rather than general self-help readers, will most enjoy this book. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017 Release date: 12/01/2017 Genre: Nonfiction
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