Locked in between the United States and Europe sits tiny Iceland. About the size of Virginia, the country’s size and location may limit its exposure to the rest of the world. However, for nearly a decade (2000-2009), the tiny country that could was ranked the third happiest nation in the world by the World Database of Happiness.
Ironically, Iceland was hit with several setbacks during the same time, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and the 2008 financial collapse. Wait….isn’t it really cold there? And aren’t there several months in the year when the sun barely shines? How is it possible for a group of people to face so many setbacks and still be ranked among the happiest in the world?
According to an article by The Atlantic newspaper, one primary reason for the country’s perpetual state of bliss is their flexibility or their “refusal to live in a box”. Two examples were given: Laurus, a chess player, executive, theologian, and now, music producer and Jón Gnarr, actor, rocker, comedian and founder of the Best Party, only later to become Reykjavik’s current mayor.
When I stumbled upon this article a few months ago, it intrigued me. Wouldn’t it be fun, enlightening and outright exhilarating to be a comedian/lawyer/preacher/designer/rock star in your lifetime? My guess is, it would require a “going with the flow” kind of attitude, self-confidence and a willingness to change. Americans and people across the world can take a lesson from this happy, little island.
Twenty-something Advice (for Anybody):
“You have to be flexible and open. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
“When it comes to your career, refuse to put yourself in a box.”
As an early twenty-something, just getting her feet wet in the working world, this bit of advice is relieving to hear- that it is okay to change and downright necessary, in fact. My career goals have always been a mix of the arts. I love film, fashion, music, literature and magazines. My childhood dreams have always been to be a magazine editor, screenwriter and philanthropist for young women. And hey, why not throw in director and singer/songwriter too? (I love to sing!)
As kids, we are taught to dabble. To go out for the sports team, take the dance class, play the violin or the clarinet, all why studying an array of topics in school. Isn’t funny that when we become adults, we often loose that sense of curiosity and flexibility?
I am going to take a lesson from our friends on the Arctic and remain flexible. Life is too big and full of too many cool experiences, to stay at a cubicle in an office from 9-5 for the rest of my life. I choose to stay open to what life may bring and not limit myself. I choose to relish in experience and chase after my dreams, every dream. I encourage you to do the same.
Cheers to happy, flexible living!