Thrive – Dan Buettner

I was hooked into the library’s digital lending scheme this week.  As part of that I downloaded this book about happiness and “thriving”.   I have been really interested in the research going on into the positive emotions for a while now.  You may remember my posts about positivity and happiness.  Well, this looked like a good candidate to follow on from those books.

The first chapter is devoted to Denmark and the key features of the culture that works to make them #2 on the World Database of Happiness rankings.  Some of the lessons the author learns are large, community and culturally driven, and less able to be replicated.  But there are others that could be implemented on a personal and family level to enhance happiness.

The second chapter discusses Singapore, Asia’s happiest place.  According to surveys 95% of the population consider themselves very happy or quite happy.  Again many aspects leading to happiness are large, community driven ones that have essentially been manufactured from almost the day Singapore became an independent nation.  It is however, a stark contrast to the types of things that make the Danes a happy nation.  But that is really where the role of culture in the formula for happiness comes in.

I have to admit to having a particular interest in what the author had to say about these two cultures.  Through our work we have made friends and colleagues from both nations and it was interesting getting an insight into their cultures through this book.  I was particularly taken by the idea of hygge.

Chapter Three moves us to Mexico, while Chapter Four takes us to San Luis Obispo before we arrive at the chapter where the author begins to pull together some of the happiness strands that run through each of these very distinctive communities.  And bring it all together, plus a bit extra that is not explicitly discussed in the preceding examples, he does.

There are so many aspects that I want to share with you that I feel like I should just reproduce the whole chapter verbatim.  But that would not be nice, nor ethical.  If you want to get an idea of what is required not just to be happy, but to thrive, then you should borrow this book from the library and make your way directly to Chapter Six.

I will most probably take a lot of notes from this book, and will be endeavouring to introduce a few of these ideas into my daily life.  After all, who couldn’t do with a bit of thriving in their life?  So while I cannot share all the details with you in this review, I will probably share most of them over the next while by way of future blog posts.

But to give you a taster, here is the summary paragraph:

There’s a lesson here for you: You can shape your own environments to live better longer, too.  The best way to do that, as we’ve seen, is to follow the practices of the world’s most experienced thrivers:  Set reasonable goals for your life.  Seek out a place to live where people are already thriving. Choose a community where you can live out your interests. Find a modest house in a neighborhood of other modest houses, with neighbors you can call friends and sidewalks that let you walk where you need to go.  Recognize your purpose in living each day.  Take time to appreciate the arts.  Find a job that you love without worrying too much about the salary.  Find a hobby that fuels your passions.  Take six weeks of vacation no matter what.   Set your life up so that you’re physically active every day.  Spend six hours a day with your lover, kids, and a handful of TRUE friends.  Meditate, pray or nap daily.
And call your Mother.

That pretty much sums it up.  Of course it is quite flippant to say that.  There is more to each of the exhortations than the statements would necessarily indicate, but they give you the pithy answer to improving your current level of happiness to that of thriving.  I look forward to working through some of the aspects mentioned and no doubt will blog about that in due course.

My final thoughts on Thrive by Dan Buettner are: it is well worth reading.  Borrow it from your library and decide for yourself if you could add one or two new ideas and practices from some of the world’s happiest cultures into your life.
I think you’ll find that you can and will want to.

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