Live happier knowing your family is protected
08:45 20 May 2022
One would expect the Danes to have a happiness research institute. The nation that gave us engrossing Scandi drama filled with convoluted plots, mean-looking characters, and often frustrating dead ends against a dark, rain-soaked backdrop is, at heart, a happy bunch.
It has been more than six years since the Director General of the Institute, Meik Wiking, published The Little Book of Hygge, which examined why Denmark is considered the happiest place in the world. It became a huge international bestseller and has been translated into 32 languages.
Mr. Wiking, who is still the patron of the Institute, has had further success with Lykke’s Little Bookwho explored how Danes and other nations cultivate happiness (lykke is the Danish word for happiness) according to half a dozen categories that the intrepid Mr. Wiking created to measure such things.
The six ‘pillars of happiness’ emerged from further analysis in the World Happiness Report, published by the Copenhagen-based Institute, although they seem far from definitive.
Nevertheless, Mr Wiking argues that happiness can be assessed by ‘measuring’ a society’s attitude towards friendliness, money, health, freedom, trust and kindness.
One could argue that at least one of these pillars, kindness, is a spontaneous reaction to another’s misfortune, which makes it extremely difficult to measure.
But let’s ignore that for now and agree that three pillars – health, freedom and money – would probably figure in most people’s half-dozen categories when it comes to evaluating the amorphous concept of happiness. .
From this trio, it’s easy to argue that health is at the top of the list. Those of us who are able to do this should constantly remind ourselves how lucky we are to enjoy good health. indeed, many people place a higher value on health than on material possessions.
Perhaps that is why Denmark ranks so high in any measure of national happiness. In Copenhagen, for example, nearly half of all daily trips to work or educational institutions are made by bicycle. Danes don’t need to disappear in the gym for hours; they already exercise more than any country on earth.
Finland – which grabbed headlines this week after deciding to join NATO – also sits near the top of the national happiness rankings. Finns maintain their good health by constantly visiting the sauna, which is why municipal saunas can be found in almost every city in the country.
Finland’s population of 5.3 million is well served by around 3.3 million saunas, whether in homes, offices, factories, hotels, ships and even in the company lodges of sports venues.
Finnish sauna operators generally apply reasonable rules regarding use. Eating or drinking is prohibited in most cases, while in others, if you speak, you must not discuss your job, title or religion. No wonder they are so relaxing.
Yet, instead of analyzing half a dozen different characteristics to define happiness, maybe we should mix them up and find another word. What about contentment?
I would define that as being comfortable with life, which might sound a bit hippy-trippy, but as you get older, one of the greatest sources of satisfaction is knowing that your family won’t suffer, financially. speaking, if you are unlucky enough to be hit by a bus or incapacitated and unable to work for a long time.
Knowing that your family will be taken care of in such circumstances is undoubtedly comforting and, although it may seem a bit contrived (it is not intentional if it is), one of the ways the most effective way to ensure this is to purchase some form of insurance coverage.
Life cover, in particular, is relatively inexpensive and offers a wide range of monetary benefits to your successors once you get rid of this death spiral.
Income protection is another insurance-based product, designed in this case to pay a monthly benefit if you are unable to work, perhaps due to incapacity caused by a serious illness or injury resulting in loss. of income.
Like happiness itself, the extent of income protection cover varies, although the best will pay up to 60% of the first £60,000 of annual income and 50% of any annual income over £60,000. In addition, non-means-tested employment-related public benefits are generally not deducted from the monthly amount paid by the insurer.
Weaving in a reference to insurance coverage when two-thirds of this article has focused on happiness may seem odd, but knowing that your family will be safe should anything untoward happen undoubtedly imparts a form of contentment. just like cycling to get to work or take a sauna. Perhaps Mr. Wiking will refer to it in his next book.
For more financial advice, check out Peter Sharkey’s regular blog, The Week In Numbers.