Ever since I started reading about school education systems across the globe, I was fascinated with Finnish and Danish way of schooling. Whether it was the OPEC or PISA or simply the high barometers of student and teacher performance in schools, Denmark and other Nordic countries were always topping the charts. This high growth trajectory fuelled my interest to learn more about the school systems.
I researched and found that it wasn’t just the school which broached the subject of high productivity levels, but also every Danish household seemed to embrace the concept, thereby infusing the concept of a symbiotic holistic learning right from the start and right at home. It was difficult to understand how kids, who were allowed to get into schools not before the ripe age of seven, coped up with elementary school education pressure or even the other kinds of school pressure, ranging from academics to a vast range of extra-curricular skills.
Countries like South East Asia, US, UK, Japan, China, South Korea and India are known to be very rigid with school education and children are thrown into a highly competitive academic stage from a very early childhood. While every child gets into the school, right at the age of three or sometimes even before, fulfilling every minute detail of the holistic learning journey, yet they are not at par with the children in Denmark, Sweden or Finland.
To top it all, the Danish children attend school for just 3-4 hours every day, that too for four days a week, with a lot of emphasis on staying outdoors! Initially I wondered how too much play and so little study made Jack master of all. However, it slowly dawned upon me, when I started reading a lot more about Danish lifestyle and their ways of living well.
Let me explain the concept of high productivity through a slightly different, yet relatable approach. While the Danish school education system tops the charts globally, there is also something else in Danish people that have brought them to the forefront. It is something that we all know, yet understand very little. Its’ simple.
It’s called “Happiness”.
More and more nations have started to believe that “Happiness” does have a profound effect on the productivity levels of the people and thereby makes a country prosperous and truly boosts the economy. From Bhutan, Thailand, Hong Kong to USA, “happiness” is slowly, yet steadily being used as a potential barometer to gauge the productiveness of a nation. Thanks to Denmark and the Danish people, whose happiness quo have set new benchmark for nations to follow.
Could a happy youth be responsible for creating the next generation of happy people or is it vice versa? Well it seems like the chicken and egg story, but whatever it is, the Danish lifestyle is indeed at the crux of generating both a happy and healthy school system and further fuels the growth of a happy nation, with high levels of productivity.
Danish lifestyle is rather a cosy familial concept of intimacy, which is all about creating moments of togetherness in a happy, cosy way. While most of the countries struggle to understand the hidden meaning of “happiness”, Danish people don’t struggle to decipher the word. For them its’ deriving pleasure from the presence of soothing things, which provide comfort and who knows sometimes even happiness.
Cuddling with a loved one on the sofa, to sharing comfort food with close friends, to that solitary walk in the park to the extent of lying idle and doing nothing, everything can be a means to feel happiness. They call this feeling of happiness “Hygge” or rather pronounced as “HHYOO-GUH” or rather “Hoo-ga”. Anyway, it doesn’t matter how you pronounce it, as long as you understand what it’s to feel like!
As per Meik Wiking, the man behind “The Happiness Institute”, Copenhagen, “Hygge” is the art of creating intimacy, cosiness of the soul to the art of taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things that bring peace, comfort and a sense of wellbeing. In his book “The Little Book of Hygge”, he explains how “hygge” is mostly about creating an atmosphere and experience rather than about things. It is about being with people we love, a feeling of being at home, shielded from an outside alien world, with a strong sense of security and with a feeling of belonging. This experience creates a sense of security, a feeling of belonging which triggers a sense of calmness and balance, essential to focus on everything else that can be quoted as work.
Emotional security is indeed great potential tool for making us productive and happy at every stage of life. A feeling of being loved and cared, a feeling that creates that sense of security and belonging will always create strong, independent and confident individuals. Maybe this is what is lacking in basic child rearing in other nations, because of which our children are not getting adequate emotional intelligence or rather stability that is essential in making them productive and effective.
Despite being splurged with a lot of monetarily expensive luxuries from childhood, yet there are certain things which we need to learn from the Danish household, who are able to extend a healthy and happy childhood to their children sans all toys and financial benefits.
High time we embrace the concept of Danish living, the essence of a healthy and happy living, so that we can impart the same to our children. No wonder the children are so productive at the school level and later at a stage called “Life”. No wonder Copenhagen’s “Happiness Research Institute” has been given the responsibility of finding out the cause and effect of happiness on people and thereby work towards improving the quality of life of citizens across the globe. After all, who better than the flagship bearers of the word “happiness”, who equate success with productivity and emotional satisfaction!