What is the key to happiness? 6 Minute English

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Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil.

And I’m Georgina.

That’s a big smile on your face, Georgina! You seem happy today!

I am, Neil.

After all, what’s the point in seeing the glass half empty?

Ah, so youre someone who tries to see the glass half full

you generally look at things in a positive way.

I hope so!

It may seem strange to be discussing happiness

in the middle of a global pandemic but right now feeling happy is

more important than ever.

Well then, it’s lucky that happiness is the subject of this

programme, Georgina. And while many things seem to be out of our

control just now, there are small things we can do to feel better about life

to feel less stressed, and maybe even a little happier.

Youre talking like a Dane now, Georgina.

Denmark, and in fact all the Nordic countries,

are often listed as among the happiest places in the world.

You know what would make me happy, Neil?

asking me a really good quiz question.

OK. Well, did you know that every year the UN publishes its

Global Happiness Survey revealing the happiest countries in the world?

It’s based on factors like income, life expectancy and health.

The Nordic countries often come in the top ten,

but which country was rated the happiest in 2020?

Was it: a) Iceland?, b) Denmark?, or, c) Finland?

Well, Neil, Denmark is famous for bacon, and nothing makes me happier

than a bacon sandwich, so I’ll say b) Denmark.

I like your thinking, Georgina!

Well find out the answer later, but youre certainly right to say that

Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries in the world.

Malene Rydahl, author of the bestselling book, Happy as a Dane,

believes that aspects of Danish culture can help us

improve our chances of happiness.

Here she is explaining what happiness means for her

to BBC World Service programme, The Conversation.

See if you can hear what she thinks:

Well, I think we should be seeking alignment and I think we

should practise gratitude and I think that we should be more conscious

about how we relate to things that happen to us and how much we

compare ourselves to othersI do think that what we need to focus on

is the quality of our relationships.

Did you hear Malene use the word alignment?

She thinks there should be harmony between my true sense of

who I am, what I think and how I relate to others.

We should be in alignmentor in the correct relation, to those things.

Malene also thinks happiness comes from gratitude

feeling grateful and expressing thanks to other people.

She recommends finding three things, no matter how small,

to be grateful for every day.

Likegetting a good night’s sleep, drinking a hot coffee

and having this chat with you, Georgina.

Thanks, Neil, that’s put a smile on my face!

It may sound strange but doing this every day can really

boost your happiness levels.

Malene also warns against seeking happiness in external things,

as you can hear in this chat with BBC World Service’s, The Conversation:

If you seek happiness and you mistake it for pleasure,

you will be running around like a little hamster in a wheel

because it’s never enough and because you will be very quickly

the victim of the hedonic treadmilland the hedonic treadmill is

you know, you want something, you think if youre more beautiful, if you

get more power, if you get more money and fame and then youll

finally be happyand then you get it and you get a small satisfaction.

According to Malene, chasing external pleasures like money and fame

will leave you feeling like a hamster on a wheel

like someone who’s always busy but never accomplishes anything

useful or finishes what they start.

She also says it’s easy to become a victim of the hedonic treadmill.

This is the idea that humans adapt to whatever level of happiness

they achieve. As we make more money, meet the perfect boyfriend

or whatever we desire, our expectations also increase,

so we never find the happiness we hoped we would!

Money can’t buy happiness’, as my grandma used to say.

Right. In fact, it’s probably the quality of our relationships,

not external objects, that gives satisfaction

the pleasure we feel when we achieve something we wanted to.

Lots of useful tips there, Georgina, for feeling as happy as a Dane.

A Dane, you say, Neil? So I got the correct answer?

In my quiz question I asked Georgina which Nordic country was rated

happiest in the UN’s 2020 global survey.

I guessed, b) Denmark.

But in fact, Georgina, it was… c) Finland.

I guess their bacon sandwiches are even better!

OK, let’s recap the vocabulary and start seeing the glass half full

looking at things in a positive way.

Happiness might be all about alignment

being in the correct relation to things.

Or gratitudebeing grateful and giving thanks.

Feeling like a hamster on a wheel means youre always busy doing

things but without getting satisfaction -

the pleasant feeling of achieving something you really wanted to.

Finally, the reason happiness often escapes us may involve the hedonic

treadmill - the human tendency to return to the same level of

happiness after something very good or very bad has happened.

That’s all for this programme.

We hope it’s lifted your spirits and given you some useful vocabulary as well.

Remember to join us again soon for more interesting topics

here at 6 Minute English. And if you like topical discussions

and want to learn how to use the vocabulary found in headlines,

why not try out our News Review podcast?

Youll find programmes about many topics that will help to keep you

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Bye!