At the start of my travels, I read ‘The little book of Lykke’ by Meik Wiking 4th Book review: ‘The Little Book of LYKKE: The Danish search for the World’s Happiest People’ by Meik Wiking which I loved and got a lot of ideas from. I was especially excited to see that the Happiness Research Institute was in Copenhagen which was already in my travel plans for December. On getting in touch with the Institute, an email correspondence started with Alexander and at the beginning there was a possibility of me visiting and getting an interview whilst I was in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, my time in Copenhagen coincided with a heavy workload for the team, however Alexander kindly accepted to do an interview about his work via email. Read on to learn more.
Please give us a brief description of what happens at the institute?
At the Happiness Research Institute, our overreaching mission is to answer three important questions: Why are some people happier than others? How can we measure happiness? and how can we make better conditions in order to live a happier life?
This basically also summarizes many of the projects we are currently working on. Each of them seeks to answer at least one of those questions above. Otherwise, our work is very project-based and each person has a primary project he or she is working with. But of course, we also help each other out and that creates a really friendly working atmosphere.
When did you start working at the institute?
I started working at the Happiness Research Institute in September 2018, so I am about 4 months in now.
What are you most proud of in your work?
I am really proud about the research that we produce at the institute knowing that it could improve people’s well-being.
I am for example currently working on a project that investigates how people’s living conditions and built environment influence their general happiness level. So far, my colleague Rebekka and I have spent a lot of time interviewing people from many different European countries about their living situations and preferences. This has given me good insight into the important aspects of a ‘happy home’. I’m really excited for when the report will be published because then those interested in our results will be able to read it.
What makes you happy?
For me, spending time with people that I like and who I consider to be my friends is what makes me happy. I really like to joke around and laugh and luckily my friends and colleagues at the institute like to do so as well.
Another thing that makes me happy is to go on walks or bike rides across Copenhagen while looking at the architecture of the buildings and enjoying the atmosphere of the city.
Has working at the institute changed your life perspective?
Yes indeed. The work at the institute has changed some perspectives about my life. I think the most surprising thing I have learned while working here at the institute is that not everything that we believe will make us happy, will actually increase our overall happiness levels. Here I am thinking for example about the common perception that a bigger house or car will always make us happier. In reality, this might not substantially change our happiness levels. So, keeping that in mind, it has made me realize that there are many other areas that I should be aware about that have an influence on my happiness. These are for example the importance of family and friends but also how important it is to strive for those things in life that are most meaningful to yourself.
Thanks to Alexander for taking the time to answer our readers’ questions. I hope you enjoyed ‘meeting’ him as much as we did.