Wishing You a Summer of Happiness and "Hygge"

Happy Summer, Gamecocks! I hope you are already unwinding from a productive year at USC, or from senior year at high school if you are an incoming freshman, or another university if you are transferring in. As I say to you all the time, make every minute count, whether in relaxing, working or making plans for the future. Summer will pass quickly and, in any event, you will never have this particular summer again.

A writer once said, 'Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen to what it intends to do with you.' That’s my desire for your time at Carolina.


I wanted to share a thought from a short book I just read, entitled “Callings,” by Dave Isay. In fact, it’s the First Year Reading Experience book that many of you will be receiving later this summer; let me whet your appetite. The book includes several stories about individuals who are doing what they love. It’s a great tribute to the “pursuit of happiness” promise that was penned into our Declaration of Independence. Around July 4 you should re familiarize yourself with this significant part of our history, even if you are an international student. Many think that our Founding Fathers were guaranteeing us happiness…far from it. Their commitment was for us to be guaranteed the freedoms and opportunity to pursue happiness. Whether you find it, depends fully on you!

The examples provided in the short book are inspiring but I don’t want you to think that the stories are unique or that yours are any less achievable. In fact the stories are not about famous people but about everyday people, so they provide the motivation to believe that you can find exactly what will make you most happy in life. A writer once said, “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen to what it intends to do with you.”

That’s my desire for your time at Carolina. I hope that you will always find time to listen to your inner voice so that it will be your calm and strongest guide. Of course, your professors will open lots of doors to new ideas but let these ideas come to rest on the foundational base of who you already are. Study and analyze them, but don’t accept or reject them without consulting your inner voice. Your parents, other family, and friends are great resources for you too but if you don’t let the whisper of your inner voice be heard by them, they won’t be able to provide the helpful reflections to advise you. So share your inner voice with them this summer.

Denmark was recently ranked as the world’s happiest country and I can’t help but think that it’s the simple pleasures described as hygge that serve its people so well.


I have one other thought to leave you with…well actually, a word. Our Provost Joan Gabel (she is our chief academic officer, and a great person that you should get to know) was in Denmark recently and shared with me a word they use there but that doesn’t translate easily into English. It’s the word “hygge.” It’s pronounced “hoo-ga” and it means “cozy,” sort of, but it’s more of an attitude. Hygge could describe friends and family sharing a meal at home. Or it could describe the warmth of indulging in a nice, if not too exciting, time together hanging out with friends by a campfire or by candle light. It describes simple ways that can counter the stress and tension that we all feel. Denmark was recently ranked as the world’s happiest country and I can’t help but think that it’s the simple pleasures described as hygge that serve its people so well.

So practice hygge this summer, listen to your inner voice, and come back to Carolina ready to pursue your special happiness and secure your lifelong goals.

See you soon, Gamecock students.