A report from Campaign To End Loneliness shows that there are over 9 million people in the UK who admit to feeling regularly lonely. And a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 23% of Brits said they lacked companionship and regularly felt isolated from others.
The study concluded: “About six in 10 say there is a specific cause of their loneliness and, compared to those who are not lonely, they more often report being dissatisfied with their personal financial situation. They are also more likely to report experiencing negative life events in the past two years, such as a negative change in financial status or a serious illness or injury. Three in 10 say their loneliness has led them to think about harming themselves.”
National Loneliness Week was launched by The Marmalade Trust. Founder, Amy Perrin believes that key to feeling better about loneliness is changing the way we think, talk and feel about it: “People rarely talk about loneliness, despite this being a common feeling. When people do talk about it, they often refer to loneliness in a negative way – saying it is something that is ‘suffered from’ or ‘I admit it, I’m lonely’.”
She adds: “We believe loneliness should not be seen as a negative, shameful or hopeless thing and educate people to see loneliness as a blank canvas on which they can fill their lives with new friends and experiences.”
I also read another article online recently that said: “If you pursue happiness, you may find loneliness…the pursuit of happiness might sometimes be a fool’s errand. Being happy can lead you to ignore potentially dangerous consequences of your choices, to be more gullible, and to think in more simplistic and stereotyped terms. And an active desire to make yourself happy can lead you to be disappointed with your real life.”
I think it’s safe to say that I disagree!
Denmark has always dominated happiness reports and is said to be the happiest country in the world. So what do they do, that we could adopt in our every day lives?
The normal working week in Denmark is 37 hours, with many people never staying later in the office than they need to and always putting their health first. Leisure is a huge part of Danish culture, and it has been proven to increase happiness. What have you done today that was just for the pleasure of it?
Most importantly, they value a cultural construct called “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah). The Oxford dictionary added the word in June 2017, and it refers to high-quality social interactions. Hygge can be used as a noun, adjective or verb (to hygge oneself), and events and places can also be hyggelige (hygge-like).
It’s better described as ‘intentional intimacy’. So here are four ways to be more Hygge Happy.
- Dim the lights – or turn them all off and light candles. This can make you feel calm and at peace. Even if you are alone it can create a sense of intimacy.
- Surround yourself with objects that make you happy. Memories, colours, ticking clocks, books. Try to avoid the television! I write about this in the book. I can it jumping on the groovy train of thought – filling your mind (and surroundings) with good feelings and letting go of negative ones.
- Meditate daily. Through this you can learn to face your fears, to accept yourself, and to let go of negative situations and feelings. Look up ‘Tending your Emotional Garden’ in my book.
- Reach out for help. This sounds obvious but we get lost in our own thoughts and feelings and forget that we can pick up the phone and speak to someone, whether that’s a friend, family member, an advice support line like the Samaritans or a practitioner like me.
For more information about Loneliness Awareness Week and to see what’s on near you, visit https://marmaladetrust.org/law/
For more tips to ‘get happy’ then please take a look at my book and let me know what works best for you > www.mattpepper.com/book