Be the Happiest Writer in the World

Sunday, April 02, 2017
What's the happiest country in the world? America? Sorry,  wrong. The correct answer is Denmark. Their citizens have five weeks paid vacation every year, twelve months paid maternity leave, free education and free medical care. They're known as the happiest people on earth, even though it's raining about half the time and they pay over 60% in taxes.

The key to their joy? Hygge. It's pronounced hu-guh, and is a Danish practice of enjoying the small pleasures in life.
VisitDenmark gives this definition:
Hygge is as Danish as pork roast and cold beer and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family—that’s hygge too. And let’s not forget the eating and drinking—preferably sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps the Danish idea of hygge explains why Danes are often considered the happiest people in the world?

Since I cannot move to Denmark in the foreseeable future, I need to find new sources of joy--as a writer--where I am right now. But what if  there's plenty of joy already around me, and I've been ignoring/overlooking it?

I never saw this quote until Cathy Hall shared it on a post. Sometimes I look at writers who have filled literally shelves of books in bookstores and I wonder, Why not me? Other times, I compare myself to another writer in my critique group, and wonder why I am not as prolific or am puzzled why I'm not published as frequently as they are. I should be happy for their success (I am, I truly am) and I should also be happy with the progress I'm making, instead of looking at it like it's a competition.

And to savor that joy that surrounds me, I'm going to celebrate things like:

  • A great beginning. There are times when I share a piece at a writing critique meeting, and my fellow writers say things like, "That first paragraph really drew me in," or "You had so many rich images in your beginning, I felt like I was there." Hey! I crafted that opening. I should smile and bask in it for a moment. 
  • Batting around ideas. When I get together with writing friends, invariably someone will mention something--a memory or an anecdote--which immediately causes me to think Oh! That reminds me of... I could write a piece about it. Ideas come to us when we least expect them. For example, a fellow writer mentioned her daughter's tattoos, which poked my muse in the arm. My muse reminded me, "Sioux, you could write a memoir piece about your son's ink." And I did...
  • Getting back to a dusty WIP. After procrastinating and making excuses, diving back into a piece you love, a manuscript that keeps calling you--well, it's satisfying. It's almost like coming back to an old friend.
So, try to embrace your inner (and perhaps non-existent) Dane. Enjoy the simple pleasures that are all around you. It might make you more content as a writer.

What is a simple pleasure you enjoy? A wannabe-Dane wants to know. 

This is a selfie of Barry Lane--a writing guru for teachers-- and
me. I'm so technologically inept, Barry had to take the selfie.
Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a freelance writer, a rescuer of dogs, a mother and a grandmother. She's working on comparing herself less to other writers and searching more for the hidden joy in life. If your interest is piqued, check out her blog.


Angela Mackintosh said...

I remember hearing that about Denmark in a Michael Moore documentary, I think. Yes, their system makes sense! But a friend's husband is Danish and he said they basically pick your job for you--I don't know if that's true anymore, this was twenty years ago--so he moved here where he could start his own business and make more money. He said in Denmark you shouldn't have more than your neighbor's kinda taboo there. So it depends on what you define as happiness, I guess.

I also enjoy great beginnings and coming up with writing ideas. I have too many though and wonder which one is the best one to invest time in. I'm really enjoying reading right now. Thanks for the reminder, Sioux, to appreciate the simple pleasures! Today I'm enjoying a hike in the canyon. Not writing related, but perhaps it'll give me more writing ideas to add to my list!

Margo Dill said...

I like when I finish something. :) Anything--even a blog post. I just created one for tomorrow and this "unofficial" writing week on my blog, and I felt happy when I scheduled it for tomorrow morning.

Val said...

I think I'm happiest when I get an idea, and my mind keeps firing more and more suggestions to build upon it. I have to open a file to jot them down, or scribble on the back of the grocery list, or make notes on a deposit slip...otherwise, they're gone when I try to remember them. Which makes me UNhappy.

Crystal Otto said...

I'm happiest when I'm reading a good book - my house can be filthy and the children unruly (and sometimes unfed) - but so long as I've got my nose in a book, I'm happy. Oh yes - and stretchy pants too...because a good book is best enjoyed while wearing comfy clothing.

Love this post Sioux - thanks!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Angela--A walk in the canyon? That sounds calming and rejuvenating and exciting--all at the same time.

I did not know that about Denmark. It sounds almost like "The Giver."

Margo--Yes, I enjoy finishing a piece, too. And being able to schedule a post so you've got it ready to go ahead of time--well, that makes me feel like I can kick back and goof off... until the next deadline is looming. ;)

Val--I hate it too when an idea slips away before I can jot it down.

Crystal--You're welcome. I agree. Going to bed with a book on a Saturday afternoon, and falling asleep for a nap during the reading--that is something I don't get to do often enough. (And comfy clothes are ALWAYS good. ;)

Mary Horner said...

I love a good book, and sitting in front of a fire in the winter or a lake in the summer. I love it when I get lost in writing, and hate it when I don't write an "unforgettable" idea! But I do try to pay attention to the little joys in life, even though I'm not always successful.

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