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Chris MacDonald about what the “Happy Danes” could do better – Happy Healthy

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Chris MacDonald about what the “Happy Danes&...

Chris MacDonald about what the “Happy Danes” could do better

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Danmark er flere gange blevet kåret til verdens lykkeligste. Samtidig får vi også at vide, at overvægt, depression og stress er stigende. Modsigende og ikke mindst mange informationer vælter ned over os. Men lad os alle lige tage et skridt tilbage. Trives du? Hvad skal der til, førend du trives? Jeg har været ude og tale med Chris MacDonald (selvfølgelig på en walk and talk) om hans nye fond “Just Human”, der handler om danskernes trivsel. Ifølge Chris har vi i Danmark de fleste parametre for trivsel, men der er stadig særligt ét område, vi kan blive bedre til. God læselyst.


MØD CHRIS MACDONALD: Chris er født og opvokset i USA, men han har været i Danmark i mere end et årti. Chris er uddannet kandidat i human fysiologi fra Københavns Universitet, foredragsholder og kendt fra diverse Tv-programmer på DR1. Læs mere her:  www.chrismacdonald.dk.


Hvad er baggrunden for, at du har startet ”Just Human”? ”Der er flere grunde. Den ene er, at vi her i Danmark bor i et land, hvor vilkår ift. trivsel er eminente. De er fantastiske. Der er selvfølgelig nogle mørke tal, som er meget i fokus, og som pressen vægter højt, og ikke mindst indenfor forskningen fokuseres der i høj grad på, hvilken vej det går i forhold til fysisk og mental sundhed. Der er nogle triste tendenser, men jeg er overordnet set stadig optimistisk. Ser vi på tendenserne igennem de sidste 25 år, da kan vi sige, at det går den forkerte vej, men hvis vi kigger på menneskets historie som homo sapiens, så har vi aldrig nogensinde haft større potentiale for at trives – hverken fysisk eller mentalt. Overordnet set så mener jeg, at vi først og fremmest burde have fokus på det positive.”
Hvad er det positive, som vi skal fokusere på? ”Jeg kan godt lide at referere til ”positive distancer”. Positive distancer gør os bedre til at læse skriften på væggen. I har et udtryk på dansk ”Når man har ryggen mod muren, så kan man ikke se skriften på væggen”. Jeg tror, at vi er i en meget unik situation i dag som homo sapiens. Blandt andet med al den forskning og viden vi har adgang til i dag, da har vi en helt unik mulighed for at læse ”skriften på væggen”. Vi kan altså læse det fra en positiv distance. Jeg kan nogle gange blive lidt træt, når jeg læser forsider på aviser og overskifter på nettet, som gerne vil på banen, og derfor skriver om det, der er galt, fordi det fanger menneskers opmærksomhed. Og jo, der er tal, som vi skal tage hamrende alvorligt, og mange i vores samfund er pressede mentalt og/eller fysisk. Men vi skal også huske, at overordnet for homo sapiens har vi aldrig haft det bedre. Og tænk hvis vi brugte den platform, vi har i dag, til at sørge for, at vi gjorde det muligt for så mange mennesker som muligt at trives. En af de veje starter med fokus på det positive. Ikke at vi bare skal tro, at det hele kan klares med et positivt syn på tingene, men vi skal starte med at vække interessen der. Den modsatte tilgang med at fokusere på det negative kan give folk en følelse af magtesløshed, og det har ikke virket indtil nu. Det er for tungt at bære for den enkelte. Just Human har interesse i at bruge denne tilgang som en platform, der skal få folk til at kigge fra en positiv distance på det kæmpe potentiale, som vi har i Danmark.”
Hvordan står vores trivsel så til i Danmark? ”Trivsel er svær at måle. Mange faktorer spiller ind. Danmark har længe været placeret blandt de lande i verden med mest trivsel, men i nyere målinger har Costa Rica og Panama braget frem. Noget af det, som hiver dem frem er, at de har mange daglige positive oplevelser. Det betyder, at de har mange øjeblikke, hvor de oplever et smil fra et andet menneske, man bryder ud i sang, eller man danser sammen. I Danmark halter vi bagud på det sociale, og på daglige positive sociale interaktioner. Vi har selvfølgelig en masse hygge og tætte relationer, men det er ikke så skandinavisk endnu, at man fx på en løbetur hilser på de modgående. Gør man det, bliver det enten opfattet som flirt eller som noget akavet eller mistroisk. Det er ikke en del af vores normale sociale norm her i Danmark.
I forhold til trivsel drejer det sig også om tungere aspekter, såsom om man har en regering, man kan regne med, ingen korruption og meget lidt kriminalitet, et velfungerende skolesystem og sundhedsvæsen, tillid og tryghed. Jeg synes, at det er interessant, at vi i Danmark har de fleste af parametrene i forhold til trivsel, men vi mangler især flere positive sociale oplevelser.”
Hvad skal vi så gøre for mere trivsel? ”Positive casual networks. Når vi to eksempelvis går en tur, er ude i naturen, bevæger os og snakker sammen, da har vi tilstrækkelig evidens til at vide, at det alt sammen har stor effekt på vores velvære og trivsel. Vi to skaber et ”casual network”, som vil skabe nye netværk i livet. Det vil eksempelvis medføre en bedre nattesøvn, en bedre dag i morgen. Det igangsætter altså en positiv spiral. ”Positive casual networks” er interessante, for vi ved ikke, hvad der starter hvad, men vi ved bare, at de eksisterer. Så tilbage til der, hvor jeg tror, at vi står i en unik situation i Danmark i dag. Mange af de parametre , som vi kan dreje på, er nogle som vi forholdsvist simpelt kan gøre noget ved selv og sammen med vores små netværk. Jeg tror aldrig nogensinde, at der har været et tidsrum eller tidspunkt eller land/område i menneskets historie, hvor der har været større potentiale for et gevaldigt ryk i den rigtige retning ift. trivsel. Og Danmark kan blive et lyspunkt for andre lande som inspiration til at gå samme vej.”
Hvordan hænger trivsel sammen med sundhed? ”Vi har data om mennesker, der trives, ikke trives og mistrives. Data viser, at mennesker, der ikke trives, risikerer et liv, der er op til 10 år kortere end mennesker, der trives. Data viser, at decideret mistrivsel er direkte farligt for sundheden. Jeg tror, at trivsel er en bonus ved sundhed, og at det hjælper. Jeg vil ikke kalde det en direkte forudsætning, fordi hvad betyder det egentligt at være sund? Kan man have en diagnose og være syg men stadigvæk trives? Det vil jeg mene, at man godt kan. Kan man være fuldstændig fri for enhver fysisk og mental diagnose, have en fantastisk sundhedsprofil fysiologisk og alligevel ikke trives? Det vil jeg mene, at man kan. Men igen i forhold til en positiv netværksteori, vil jeg mene, at trivsel kan øge ens odds for sundhed gevaldigt. Hvordan vi har det fysiologisk vil påvirke, hvordan vi har det mentalt og omvendt. Det mentale er ligeså meget et organ, som andre organer i kroppen, og krop og psyke hænger tæt sammen. Et vigtigt budskab er, at vi alle er ”just humans”. Det betyder, at vi bare er mennesker. Vi begår fejl og vi er ikke perfekte. Der er en tilgivelse i det. Vi fejler alle sammen, men der er også en opfordring til at bevare ydmyghed: ”easy, you’re just human”. Vi er den tredje chimpanse, der har mistet vores pels. Vi er et enormt avanceret pattedyr, og det bliver glemt nogle gange – på godt og ondt. Det er kun (red. just) homo sapiens, som har en evne til at reflektere over vores tilværelse. Det kan være super tungt til tider. Så vi er det eneste væsen, som kan have ”eksistentielle kriser”, men det er samtidig det, som gør os ret interessante og helt unikke.”
Jeg synes, at Chris har en utrolig god pointe med, at vi alle skal huske os selv på, at vi bare/”just” er “humans”. Vi er alle bare mennesker, og det ligger der en tilgivelse i. En tilgivelse på den måde, at som menneske er ingen perfekte, og det skal vi acceptere. Vi er i stand til at reflektere – men nogle gange gør vi det måske for meget? Vi skal slappe mere af og komme hinanden mere ved. At være social er et fundamentalt behov for homo sapiens, og jeg tror, at vi alle i Danmark kan blive bedre til at være imødekommende og mere smilende – ikke mindst overfor fremmede. Det kan jeg i hvert fald godt selv. Jeg synes, at vi alle i dag skal minde os selv om at smile en ekstra gang  - også til fremmede på gaden. Lad os blive bedre til at skabe flere “positive daglige sociale oplevelser”. Ikke mindst her i den kære juletid.
Jeg ville blive glad for at høre, hvad du fik ud af interviewet.

– Kærlig hilsen Julie/HappyHealth – 

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 – ENGLISH –

Denmark has several times been voted the world’s happiest country.. At the same time we also know that obesity, depression and stress are increasing .. Contradictory and not least much information is pouring down on us. But let’s all just take one step back. Are you happy? What will it take for you to be happy? I’ve been out and talk to Chris MacDonald (of course on a walk and talk) about his new fund “Just Human”, which is about the Dane’s well-being. According to Chris, Denmark has most parameters to well-being and happiness, but there are still one specific area where we can improve. Enjoy your reading!


MEET CHRIS MACDONALD: Chris was born and raised in America, but he has been in Denmark for more than a decade. Chris holds a master in Human Physiology from the University of Copenhagen, he is a lecturer and known from various TV programs on the danish channel DR1. Read more about him here: www.chrismacdonald.dk.

What is the reason you started the fund “Just Human”? “There are several reasons. One is that we in Denmark live in a country with eminent conditions and opportunities for happiness. They are simply amazing. Of course there are some dark figures, which are much in focus and the press value these highly. Not least within the research the focus is largely on what way it goes in relation to physical and mental health. There are some sad trends, but I am overall still optimistic. Looking at the trends over the last 25 years we can say that it goes the wrong way, but if we look at the entire history of homo sapiens, we have never had greater potential to be happy and feel well – physically and mentally. Overall, then, I think that first and foremost we should focus on the positive. “
What is the positive that we need to focus on? “I like to refer to what I call “positive distances”. Positive distances make us better to see everything more clearly. In Danish you have the expression “When you have your back against the wall you can not see the writing on the wall”. I think we are in a very unique situation today as homo sapiens. With all the research and knowledge we have access to today we stand in a very unique opportunity to read the “writing on the wall”. We can read it from a positive distance. I can sometimes get a bit tired and sad when I read the front pages of newspapers and headlines on the web who wants to get noticed, and therefore write about the negative tendencies because it captures people’s attention. And yes, there are numbers that we need to take incredibly seriously, and many in our society do suffer mentally and / or physically. But we must also remember that overall for homo sapiens, we have never been better. And imagine if we used the platform we have today, to make sure we made it possible for as many people as possible to feel so good. One way to start is by focusing on the positive. Not that we should just believe that everything can be solved with a positive view on things, but we must start with that. The opposite approach by focusing on the negative can give people a sense of powerlessness, and it has not worked so far. It’s too heavy for the individual. The fund Just Human is interested in using this approach as a platform to get people to look from a positive distance on the enormous potential that we have in Denmark. “
How, then, is the well-being and happiness in Denmark? “It’s difficult to measure. Many factors come into play. Denmark has long been ranked among the countries in the world with most well-being and happiness, but in more recent measurements Costa Rica and Panama overtake our place. One thing that pull them forward is that they have many daily positive experiences. This means that they have many moments where they experience a smile from another person, break out in song or dance together. In Denmark we lack behind on the social aspects and on these daily positive interactions. Of course, we have a lot of fun and close relations, but it is not as Scandinavian yet for  example to greet bypassing people on the street. If you do that, it is either perceived as flirting or something awkward or distrustful. It is not part of our social norm here in Denmark.
Well-being and happiness is also about the more heavier aspects,such as whether you have a government you can trust, no corruption, little crime, a functioning school system and health care, trust and confidence. I think it is interesting that we in Denmark fulfill most of the parameters in relation to well-being and happiness, but what we’re lacking is more daily positive experiences. “
What can we do about that? “Positive casual networks. When you and I for example now go for a walk outside in nature and fresh air talking together then we have enough evidence to know that all of this has a great effect on our well-being. The two of us create a “casual network” that will create new networks of life. It will for example result in a better night’s sleep, a better day tomorrow etc. It initiates therefore a positive spiral. Positive casual networks are interesting, because we do not know what starts what, but we just know that they exist. So back to where I think we stand in a unique situation in Denmark today. Many of the parameters that we can adjust are parameters that are relatively simple to change. We can change them ourselves and together with our small networks. I do not think that there has ever been a period or time or country / region in human history, where there was a greater potential for a tremendous push in the right direction regarding wellbeing and happiness. And Denmark can be a bright light to other countries as an inspiration to follow. “
How is happiness connected to health? “We have data about people who thrive, people who do not thrive and people who are unhappy and feeling bad. Data shows that people who do not thrive are risking a life that is up to 10 years shorter than people who thrive. The data shows that actual unhappiness is a direct threat to your health. I believe that well-being is a bonus with health, and that it helps. I would not call it a direct prerequisite, because what does it mean to be healthy? Can you have a diagnosis and be sick but still thrive and be happy? I will argue that you can. Can you be completely free from any physical and mental diagnosis, have a great health profile physiological and yet not be thriving? I will say that you can. But again, compared to a positive network theory, I think that well-being can increase one’s odds of health tremendously. How do feel physiological affects how we feel mentally and vice versa. The mental aspect is as much an organ as other organs in the body, and mind and body are closely related.
An important message is that we are all “just humans”. This means that we are just people. We make mistakes and we are not perfect. There is a forgiveness in this. We all make failures, but “just humans” is also a call for us to maintain humbleness: “easy, you’re just human.” We are the third chimpanzee who has lost our fur. We are very advanced mammals, and we forget that sometimes – for better and for worse. It is only (ed. Just) homo sapiens that has the ability to reflect on our lives. It can be superheavy at times. So, we are the only creature that are able to have “existential crisis”, but it is also what makes us pretty interesting and unique. “
I think Chris has an incredibly good point that we all need to remind ourselves that we are only/”just” humans. We’re all people, and in that lies an forgiveness. A forgiveness in that sense that as a human being we are not perfect, and we must accept that. We are able to reflect – but sometimes we might reflect too much? We need to relax more and interact more. Being social is a fundamental need for homo sapiens, and I think we all in Denmark can be better at being gracious, smiling and friendly – especially with strangers. At least I know I can be better. Today, I think we should all remind ourselves to smile one more time – even to strangers on the street. Let’s be better at creating more “positive daily social experiences.”
I would love to hear what think of the interview too.

– Love Julie/HappyHealthy – 

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RELATED POST

  1. […] Jeg har været ude at mødes med Chris MacDonald til en tankevækkende og lærerig snak om glæde, og hvad han selv gør for at holde sig glad i hverdagen. Chris mener, at glæde et positivt symptom, der afspejler ens daglige handlinger. Vi er alle mennesker, homo sapiens, som ikke er skabt til at være glade. Vi er skabt til at overleve… Vi bliver nødt til at skrue ned for forventningerne og lære at være komfortable med ikke at være glade hele tiden. God læselyst! (Jeg har tidligere været ude at interviewe Chris MacDonald omkring trivsel. Kan du læse mere om HER.) […]

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