What is Happiness? And how can we be happy? These questions are an integral part of the human experience, but their answers can be elusive. We can use different perspectives to approach them, for example through philosophy or psychology. We can also use our personal view of our feelings and goals as we navigate through life. But can we bring a scientific approach to happiness?
Meik Wiking, CEO of the Institute for Happiness Research in Copenhagen, believes we can. The institute combines qualitative and quantitative methods to provide insight into well-being, happiness and quality of life.
His mission? Informing decision-makers in companies and communities about the causes and consequences of happiness, and in turn making subjective well-being part of the public policy debate at local, national and international levels.
We spoke to Meik Wiking at TNW 2022 and asked him the big questions about happiness. To see his insights in full, watch the video at the top of this article. Alternatively you can check it out here.
“Happiness is a dish with many different ingredients,” Wiking told us. “It’s about experiencing positive emotions on a daily basis, being satisfied with life in general, and having a strong sense of purpose or meaning.”
Happiness is above all an emotion, Wiking explained, and as such it is subjective. This means that individual perceptions of it vary, making each person the only one who can judge whether they are happy or not.
So what can we do to cultivate this emotion and be happier? Wiking suggests that there is also an ABC to happiness. A stands for “act”, B stands for “belong” and C stands for “commit”. In other words, these are the three steps: doing something active, doing something with other people, and doing something meaningful.
But is happiness only a matter of perception or do external circumstances also play a role? And could the whole world be happier?