One of my absolute favorite books from the past couple years (one that I recommended endlessly to anyone who would listen) was Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. A book chock full of ways to make your winters—and your life for that matter—all around lovelier and more cozy. After reading it I was thoroughly charmed and have been avidly following the author’s writing ever since. As CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Meik Wiking is one of the leading experts on what makes people happy and why. So when I heard about his latest book, The Art of Making Memories: How to Create and Remember Happy Moments; I could not wait to read what he had to say on the subject—for what are our lives made up of, if not memories? The Prince of Hygge himself happily (of course) answered my questions; your humble correspondent counts the opportunity to interview him a happy memory indeed!
What was the genesis of this book? How did it get started?
My career and the work we do at the Happiness Research Institute is dedicated to understanding why some people are happier than others and how we can increase happiness and well being. And I could see that creating happy moments and being able to retrieve happy memories are part of the answer to both questions.
I love the idea of being mindful to curate memories, just like you would be mindful to make your world hygge! Do you think there is a correlation between the two?
There are for sure common elements. Being present for one. And it reminds me of a woman who recently read my book and told me that it reminded her of a time when she was 8 and had dinner with her mother and sister – and they are laughing and having a good time and feeling happy – and then her mother says: “I hope you remember this moment”. And here we are 30 years later – she still remembers because her mother made her pay attention to the moment.
Oftentimes, we think that to make memories we must be with others. Do you have any ideas for people who are flying solo?
For the book, we did a huge collection of happy memories from around the world. In a lot of them people are by themselves but often seems to be connecting with nature. I remember one man’s happy memory was sitting on a mountain looking out over the ocean – with no one to answer to. A sense of freedom and connection with the world at the same time.
If you didn’t know who I was or where I was, what would you suggest if I walked out my door and wanted to make a memory today?
Ask your friends over for dinner tonight and ask each one to bring a food ingredient they have not tried before. We are more likely to remember first time experiences. That is one of the reasons why life seems to speed up as we get older. We have more firsts in our teenage years than in our forties.
I’d love to hear a few of your own favorite personal memories! Ones you’ve realized that incorporate the things you’ve learned while researching this book.
I have started to use scent as a memory trigger. For instance, last summer I was spearfishing and caught a couple of fish and was sitting on a warm rock looking out over the ocean and felt happy and peaceful and wanted to be able to remember that moment in the future – so I tied in the scent of the ocean with that feeling and that moment. That was also something Andy Warhol did. He wore the same perfume for three months and then switched to a new one – that meant over time he had a museum of memories – he could take a whiff of a perfume and then be transported back in time.
What would you say to someone who is very busy and gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the every day?
Remember one day that life is going to flash before your eyes – make sure it is worth watching. I think the biggest “aha” moment for me in writing the book was understanding that there is actually something I can do to influence what I and my friends and family remember – and I think that role as a memory architect is empowering.
What’s next? Anything exciting your readers can look forward to?
You are starting to sound like my editor 🙂
Mr. Wiking’s book is a thought provoking and interesting read. The Art of Making Memories gives a new perspective on something we may think is trivial, but could very well be vital. It is a call to action to chart your own course to create beautiful memories—no matter how big or small they may be. It certainly seems to be a worthy endeavor. Just as our bodies are made up of a certain percentage of water, surely our hearts must be of memories!
Get The Art of Making Memories today!