Interview with Happiness Researcher and Author Meik Wiking

Anyone who loves Nordic culture will know that the Nordic countries frequently top the list of happiest nations. But why is this?

Meik Wiking has made it his passion to find answers. He is founder and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, he has written numerous books about Nordic culture and happiness including The Little Book of Hygge and The Little Book of Lykke, and recently The Art of Making Memories. He participates in various happiness research studies and gives talks on the subject around the world.

We are super excited that his latest project, the Happiness Museum is opening TODAY (14 July) in Copenhagen! We can’t wait to visit and if you would also like to plan a trip, then check out our blog on 48 Hours in Copenhagen.

Time to meet Meik…

So tell us, what is a typical day in the life of Meik Wiking?

So all the projects we do at the Happiness Research Institute are trying to shed some light on three questions: How can we measure happiness, why are some people happier than others, and how can we improve quality of life. 

It has been a tough year and globally there are a lot of people struggling with the current health crisis – what would your advice be for building resilience and finding happiness in such a challenging time?

I’ve been reading, cooking and connecting (online). Books have these amazing ability to transport us in time and space, cooking and eating is a key component of pleasure in our everyday lives – and though we have to remain distant we can still use different digital platforms to connect with people these days. 

Tell us some more about the opening of the Happiness Museum in Copenhagen?

Yes, so we get many requests from people wanting to come by and see the institute – maybe people think we play with puppies and eat ice cream all day – unfortunately, we mainly sit and look at data and studies – but we thought why don’t we create a place where people can understand happiness. So at the Happiness Museum you can explore the history of happiness, the science of happiness, happiness around the world and much more – it is a small museum but about the big things in life. 

Aside from the museum, what exciting projects have you got coming up?

We have just published a report called Well-being Adjusted Life Years – where we can understand how different disease impact quality of life – and therefore understand how we can get a happiness return on investment. So we will be applying that to different fields. And then I might be working on a new book… 🙂

What are some of your favourite places to visit in Copenhagen?

These days – it would one of the many harbour baths around Copenhagen. The water is so clean that you can swim in the inner harbour – so those are great spots for meeting with friends for a swim and then a beer after work. 

Have a watch of Meik’s TED Talk – ‘The Dark Side of Happiness’

What have you been watching, reading, or listening to? Any recommendations?

My friend, Gurli Kløvedal, just published her first book so I am reading that and really enjoying it.  It is called Hundehjerte (Heart of the Dog) and is set in the near future but alternate reality where Hillary won the 2016 election. 

Finally, what is your tip of the day?

I like the mental ABC which is being promoted in Denmark – Do something active, do something meaningful – and do something together with other people (the last one might be trickier these days). 

Interview by: Alex & Claire Minnis / Images courtesy of Meik Wiking

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