Thursday, February 15, 2018

What Makes Life Worth Living? Magnolia Salon Prepares to Explore Hygge, Mindfulness, Creativity and Flow

Two weeks ago the Oldenburg House, in conjunction with Magnolia Cafe, kicked off a concept they've dubbed the Magnolia Salon, stimulated in part by the salon-style meeting places featured in late 20s Paris and re-created in films like Midnight In Paris. Here are few notes I've gathered on the topic that is swirling around for exploration tonight on hygge, mindfulness, creativity and flow.

Emily said to me recently that she and Glenn 'have had endless conversations about what we call 'the slipstream' and creating the optimal environment for flow and creativity." These are conversations that many others might wish to become part of.

She went on to say that they have been  pondering the role of limits, struggles and discontent in sparking creativity. "We often have had great things happen because we believe in 'loving our constraints'," she explained. It's another way of saying "necessity is the mother of invention.

Emily then cited a TED Talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of the book Flow, who asks, "What makes a life worth living?" Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of "flow."

This led to some thoughts about the Danish concept of hygge, the Swedish focus on lagom, Scottish belief in còsagach, the Japanese focus of wabi-sabi and ikigai, the Dutch phrase gezelligheid and the German term gemutlicheit. If that string of words is a bit too much, the notion of mindfulness, of coziness, and maybe satisfaction are all part of it. (I'm guessing.)

What I do know is that these are idea starters that our Salon group will strive to investigate more deeply, especially as it relates to creativity, appreciation for beauty, and the mutual enrichment of exploring the possibilities that come from dialogue. 

Here's the opening of a blog post titled The Hygge Connection. It's from a blog called "Not Quite Superhuman." I love that name.


According to author Marie Tourell Soderberg (2016), at one time Denmark claimed much of northern Europe, even parts of Britain, as part of their territories. However, after losing the last bit which consisted of Norway in 1814, Denmark was left with nothing more than a small, flat landscape of a country. Therefore, they promoted a strong sense of community among people with shared interests. The characteristics of hygge are the epitome of the Scandinavian welfare state and Danish identity. Demark ranks as number two on the current World Happiness Report (2017) and was previously rated as number one in the world. Many researchers have pointed to hygge being the reason for this high rating (Soderberg, 2016).

Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) is a term that somewhat defies translation into English. In a sense, it is a feeling of family and friends, conversation, openness, and warmth (Soderberg, 2016).

The author goes on to write about Hygge & Mindfulness, Hygge Themes and Hygge and Mindset, perhaps more than you ever wanted to learn about this word, though I suspect you'll find it more of a catalyst to do further thinking on this topic. It may even prod you to think about moving to Denmark sone day.

You can read the rest of this excellent essay here at Not Quite Superhuman.

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At this point I hope to have accomplished my purpose, which is to make you want to join us tonight for a stimulating discussion and the mutual exploration of themes we often think about only privately. If you already have other plans, then plan to join us next week or any future Thursday that you have open. We'd like to get to know you. Oldenburg House is located at 604 Chestnut Avenue in Carlton, about 15 minutes South of the Proctor exit. (I promise to time this for you at some point soon.)

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Magnolia Salon was initially organized by Oldenburg House, Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community (OACC), and Magnolia Café. The first season of The Salon will be held on Thursday evenings from 6-9 p.m. in the Carlton Room at Oldenburg House through May 31, 2018.

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