Photo by Nina Uhlikova

We’re All Crazy: Get Used to It! is a great book about why maintaining a smile rather than a frown is the best way to ensure that your mindset stays sharp and stable.

In Jerold Skolnik’s We’re All Crazy: Get Used to It!, he teaches readers the importance of maintaining a steady frame and a stable mindset. It is a wonderful book explaining why maintaining a smile rather than a frown is the best method for pursuing a better and more productive life. 

Of course, how to maintain that smile will differ greatly from person to person, place to place, and culture to culture–that’s why embracing diversity is a good tactic. Living now in an increasingly multicultural world where there is a massive and fruitful exchange of ideas and perspectives, it is quite an insightful approach to learning from other cultures and knowing how they pursue and keep happiness. 

Embracing Diversity and Learning from Others

Over the many thousands of years that humans have existed and persisted with society and technology, always trying to make their lives easier and better, one thing is certainly the clearest: LIFE IS NOT EASY!

This can be shown in the written record of how there have been countless debates and discussions, schools of philosophies created and debunked, strategies applied and discarded, of how to live a happy and productive life. Stress prowls every turn and twists in the labyrinth of life, and people, since time immemorial, have always wanted to know how to navigate the maze and the daily troubles of life.

While philosophers and writers have developed many dissections and treatises about how to live happy lives, the glut of the most intuitive and practical customs have normally come from the people themselves and the cultures that they unconsciously have contributed to. Embracing diversity is key to this.

Here are some cultural concepts to learn from to get a better perspective of what it means acquire happiness and maintain a smile rather than a frown. 

Friluftsliv is simply Norwegian for “outdoor life.” Owing to its natural and pristine beauty, much of this Nordic nation’s countryside and environment remains relatively untouched, making it a prime location for outings and outdoor activities. As such, Norwegians have developed a wonderful attitude to preferring to be in the open world rather than staying cooped up inside their houses and offices. Friluftsliv is also a way to connect with the wider world and prevent getting mentally stagnated inside the confines of urban life.

Gemütlichkeit is the abstract German concept of good cheer and warmth. It is used to communicate a state of friendliness and a general appreciation for company and social togetherness. In many places in Germany, Austria, and parts of Switzerland, communal spaces and places of gathering like taverns and inns are usually built and designed with Gemütlichkeit in mind–the word is often translated as coziness. Germans typically convey Gemütlichkeit in the form of a song or a dance, but generally, in taverns especially, with a drink of beer. Gemütlichkeit is the acknowledgment that everyone needs company sometimes.

Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian custom meaning “to make things right.” This is not an idea that usually calls for retributive justice or the like but rather to create dialogue and restore love and balance between significant and intimate relationships. Ho’oponopono is both an idea and a process. It is the idea that all relationships should be cherished, and whatever conflict arises must be taken with the most serious consideration. It is also the process of reconciliation and the attempt to, as it were, let bygones be bygones and truly move forward together with a shared promise. The concept of ho’oponopono reminds individuals that each and every one of them are interconnected and that happiness can be a communal affair.

Shinrin-yoku literally means in the original Japanese as either “forest bathing” or “absorbing the forest atmosphere.” It does not necessarily mean going to the forest but merely finding the time to escape the modern ills of living in an urban environment. In lieu of a forest, a park or farmland is doable. What is espoused with shinrin-yoku is trying to find the time to be more closely in touch with nature and attempting to wash away your troubles by placing yourself in a calmer, more soothing environment. Studies have shown that shinrin-yoku helps enhance your body’s natural resistance and alleviates stress while improving one’s mood.

While similar to the Norwegian friluftsliv, shinrin-yoku advocates for communion with nature, while friluftsliv more broadly applies to staying outside instead of keeping yourself locked in.

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