Livingston Loves Lit: “Thrive” Discussion Part I

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I know it’s hard to find time to read. I know it’s the holidays so that makes it even harder.  But. Yes, there’s a but. But I really encourage you to pick up our current selection, “Thrive” by Dan Buettner. Put it on your Christmas list and read it after the holidays. It’s all about happiness and who doesn’t want more happiness? Buettner visited the world’s happiest people, trying to discern what exactly makes them so happy. It’s usually not what you think.

This week we’ll discuss the first place he visited, Denmark, which ranked second happiest country in the world. The United States ranked 20th in this survey.

  1. What do you think of their practice of  “hygge”– the art of relaxing in a warm and cozy environment?
  2. Sociologist, Peter Gundelach claims that “Countries where people have roughly the same level of status are happier than those places where you have a few haves and many have-nots.” Do you agree with this philosophy?
  3. Access to arts and arts education is an essential part of Danish life. How involved are you in the arts? Do you believe the arts are essential to happiness?
  4. Many Danes join associations, clubs and they also volunteer. Do you make it a priority to join groups? On-line or in real life? Does it matter?
  5. Children are taught from an early age to have an opinion and voice it. They learn early that their voice matters.  Is this important to happiness?


  1. As soon as I read about “hygee” I got goosebumps. I love curling up in front of a cozy fire in the winter or a bonfire in the summer.  It softens the edges of the day. People seem to open up more. I think hygge should be a daily ritual.
  2. I think that economic equality breeds an overall sense of security but I also believe that it requires a strong work ethic.
  3.  I read, I write, I paint and create collages. I enjoy going to poetry readings, visiting museums. It adds a level of beauty to my life. It exposes me to other ways of thinking, of living. (Like this book.) I also love their idea of folk high schools which promote “a spirit of freedom, equality, and disciplined creativity.”
  4.  I’ve read many studies that tie happiness and longevity to having an active social life. I’ve been in book clubs both virtual and real. I am in a writing group that meets in person. But this is definitely an area I’d like to explore more.
  5. I think it is important. As children, we have so little control over what happens that to have a say in what we eat for dinner or go on vacation, gives us back some sense of order. As adults, it is critical that we feel we have a voice in our relationships, jobs, communities and country. 


How about you? Even if you haven’t started reading the book, you can still join the discussion. Please leave your responses in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.