Happiness is… what?
If you’re a human being, you will no doubt have asked yourself this at least once in your life. Oxford Dictionary’s ‘Captain Obvious’ definition for happiness is ‘the feeling of being happy’. But in the days of Aristotle, happiness was thought to have at least two aspects: hedonia (pleasure) and eudaimonia (a life well lived). A life well lived. That’s a pretty spectacular definition of happiness by my book.
For the past six years, the World Happiness Report has placed Switzerland right up amongst the happiest countries on the planet. So last week I leapt at the chance to attend Ricola’s Swisstification masterclass to uncover those wonderful Swiss citizens’ secrets for happiness! For over 80 years Ricola have been creating herbal sweets in the fresh air of the Alps, so they know a thing or two about how to achieve that balanced Swiss lifestyle.
The outdoors are GREAT!
With some of the most stunning vistas in the world, it’s no wonder the Swiss embrace the outdoors. But good old Blighty is no slouch in the picturesque stakes, so why don’t we take a leaf out of their book more? One of my very favourite things about England is the seasons. But as we skip through the year, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter can often appear to blend into one another. It’s not uncommon to be burnt on Monday, wear your rain coat on Wednesday and brace yourself for an unexpected frost by the weekend. Wind, Rain or Shine, getting outside stimulates our creativity, amps up our Vitamin D intake, decreases stress levels, makes for a better night’s sleep and helps us grow old gracefully with less creaking knees and cobwebbed hips. So whatever the weather, get outside and embrace it!
The Swiss are heralded as the best time keepers in the world, not just as the producers of some of the most luxurious and prestigious timepieces, but the Swiss also have great respect for punctuality. Guest speaker, Alexandra Dudley, explained how the country’s impeccable train and bus network never fails to runs on time. This is wildly contrary to the UK rail service BUT – no excuses! Give yourself that little bit of extra time to make it to your destination. Not only will punctuality make your companion happy, you’ll be less stressed, less guilt-ridden and better prepared for the day ahead.
No matter what career you’re in or how many additional commitments you have, creating a healthy balance between work and play is absolutely essential when it comes to leading a happy and productive lifestyle. Even if they have a particularly demanding career, the Swiss will at least make time for a proper lunch break – no more demolishing your Pret at your desk, sneaking a bite of caesar baguette in between emails. Strike a balance and you’ll be more productive, more likely to enjoy work and you’ll have more time for you and the people you care about most.
This, in particular, is a #BeMoreSwiss lesson I am trying my hardest to instil. I often struggle to stick to 9am-5pm, and to juggle the never ending to-do list that comes with being your own boss. My first step has been to free up my weekends. Sunday is a day of rest in Switzerland, with most businesses closing as people focus on spending quality time with family and friends – what better day to start to #BeMoreSwiss.
Well ‘Hello’ there!
According to old law, it’s illegal to own just one Guinea pig in Switzerland, as they’re prone to loneliness – this empathy for others has been deeply rooted into Swiss culture. A simple “Grüezi” is used to greet anyone who crosses your path, whilst three kisses on alternate cheeks welcome friends. Try it sometime! Yes, even you my dear hectic commuter, scrolling through old photographs on your signal-less phone to avoid looking up and making eye contact with someone!
So what do you reckon? Are you ready to take on the challenge to #BeMoreSwiss? Comment below and hit me up on Instagram with your secrets to happiness.
A huge thank you to the Ricola team for inviting me to their incredible event at Mosimann’s, where we dined on the most extraordinary feast full to the brim with delicious herbs and flavours. As you know a great meal goes a long way to making me very, very happy indeed.
For more information on Ricola’s Be More Swiss campaign please visit http://Ricola.com/BeMoreSwiss
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