Take a cue from Denmark.
In the last 40 years, one country has been dubbed the happiest country in the world: Denmark.
Americans' daily lives tend to be fast-paced, and very rarely do we stop to smell the roses. Grudges, anger, and negativity fill almost every news report and social media post.
In a Huffington Post article, Jessica Alexander, author of The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World, reveals the secret to the European country's happiness. It's the Danish concept of "hygge" (pronounced "hooga"), described as "essentially drama-free togetherness time."
To put it bluntly, when you spend time with family and friends, actually spend time with them. Make it about "we," not "me."
"Hygge is considered such a powerful factor in Danish happiness that some universities in the UK and the US have started offering courses on it," said Alexander.
Since Thanksgiving is coming up, how can we apply this concept? Here are 5 tips to get you closer to happiness:
1. They stay true to themselves.
Don't pretend to be someone you're not. Allow yourself to let your guard down, and allow others to let their guard down. The concept of hygge calls for a judgment-free zone.
"When we strip ourselves of trying to prove something, we can all connect in a much more real way," Alexander said. "Competition, boasting, and pretense are not bonding, but rather subtly dividing."
2. They avoid controversy.
"If your topic is too serious, divisive or controversial, it probably isn't hyggeligt," she said. "Hygge is about a balanced ebb and flow of discussion in a lighthearted way. The focus is on the moment and being in the moment."
Try to focus on more positive subjects. Remember that you're there to enjoy each other's company. Arguing about politics and other sensitive issues will only dampen everyone's mood.
3. They encourage team work.
Don't leave all the work to one person while everyone else is just enjoying it. The point is for everyone to have a good time, and this means everyone pitches in. You wouldn't like it if you did all the cooking and then the dishes, too.
"When everyone works together in preparing, serving, pouring, and conversing, then hygge is in full bloom," said Alexander.
4. They make conversations a safe place.
As stated in #1, this should be a judgment-free zone.
"For better or for worse, this place is sacred and problems can be left outside. This is special because it allows for families and friends to always be able to connect in this space without fear of judgment," she said.
5. They cherish the moment.
"It feels incredible to share these drama-free moments with those you care about. If you realize that it's only for a dinner or a lunch or a limited period of time, it makes it much easier to really try and enjoy that moment," Alexander said.
Do you really want to spend all your time complaining, competing, and arguing? Remember why you're there in the first place: to spend time with other people. Otherwise, why did you even show up?
In order to truly enjoy the holiday in the concept of hygge, leave all your negativity at the door. Make preparation a group effort. Enjoy the time spent with family, and you'll find yourself happy.