When the Danish word hygge became the word for leading a cozy life here in the states a few years back, little were we prepared for the other intriguing words that would soon accompany hygge.
Scandinavians and Nordic folks are hailed as the happiest people on earth, research proves it. This is an area of the world that brings about very cold weather, gray skies, and not a ton of sunlight during the winter months. However, with that being said, these aspects of their lives do not stop our Nordic friends from leading very happy lives.
The secret: It’s in their mindset.
It’s in the way they think about life, nature, other people, work-life balance, food, time off, maternal and paternal leave, family…you name it.
Scandinavians’ perspective on slowing down, appreciating the simple things in life, and human connection helps them lead an all-around happier life.
There’s a bit of dolce far niente sprinkled in their lifestyle as well.
An incredible study out of Tromsø, Norway conducted by Kari Leibowitz, found that even when sunlight was down to 2 – 3 hours a day, there was “no increase in mental distress over the winter.” She attributes this to their mindset.
How they think helps boost their resilience.
Scandinavians have a very special way of life. One we can all learn a few things from.
Let’s take a closer at how they see and behave in the world they exist in.
Hygge – (pronounced: hoo-guh / Danish)
Listen up. Hygge is so much more than candles, cozy textures, and soups on the stove. Hygge is a feeling. A state of being. A sense of contentment and closeness.
You know when you are feeling hygge.
I read somewhere that hygge is:
The absence of all things overwhelming.
Doesn’t that sentence alone just lower your blood pressure? Imagine intentionally implementing ways to help diminish overwhelming thoughts and feelings.
Hygge also lends a strong hand in appreciating moments spent with loved ones, but also while alone.
Cooking, bonfires, puzzles, board games, books, baking, walks in nature, table topics, hanging with a pet or person, coffee breaks, sharing meals, and then some are all ways to amp up your hygge vibes.
In regards to the stereotypes of hygge, yes, candles do play a big role. However, it’s also about how the warm glow of their flame makes you feel, not only how it looks.
Fika – (pronounced: fee-kah / Swedish)
To take a fika is to take a social coffee break. Meaning, to stop what it is you are doing (especially work-related and mindless scrolling) and to enjoy a coffee and sweet (insert: delicious, gooey cinnamon bun).
They say a fika is more meant to be done with two people, but I do love myself a solo fika. I also think taking a variation of a fika with a child could be a really great way to teach them the art of slowing down and creating moments.
Fika can be done at home, in a cafe, park, even at the workplace. With this Nordic-style coffee break, the idea is to really take time out of your day to actually have a break.
Fika is literally a way of life in Sweden and it runs deep within their culture. Swedes take fika very seriously.
I think the truest lesson with fika is taking time to pause. To really enjoy a moment of your day without feeling like every breathing second has to be packed with productivity.
Friluftsliv – (pronounced: free-loofts-liv / Norwegian)
I love a good friluftsliv. Granted I don’t know if I am using it correctly grammatically, it doesn’t matter. I love it so damn much.
Technically, friluftsliv can be loosely translated to “open-air living”. Although there isn’t an exact translation, the concept can be said in any language.
In other words, frislutzliv is to get outside and spend quality time in nature.
Nordics are not turned off by wintertime weather, in fact, I think they’re turned on. Although this aspect of their lifestyle is implemented all year round, they seem to really thrive during their coldest, darkest months of the year.
They think of it this way:
There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
I freaking love that because it’s so damn true. Layer up and you’re good to go.
Check out our outdoor winter guide to help get your frislutzliv on.
Lagom / (pronounced lar-gohm / Swedish)
This word reminds me of what our highschool dean used to say at the end of every announcement:
As in all things ladies and gentlemen, moderation.
Lagom is synonymous with moderation and also balance. It can be thought of as just the right amount or the right amount is best.
It’s the opposite of always seeking the next best thing and realizing that you have just what you need.
Here are some ways to implement lagom into your life:
- Instead of asking yourself, “Can I try harder?” “Could I have done better?”, exchange it for “Have I done my best?” or “Is this good enough?”.
- Declutter a room, donate what you don’t need anymore. A balanced home can have you feeling less cluttered, mentally.
- Meditate. The practice of focusing on your breath is your best tool for helping you find balance in many aspects of your life.
- End your workday and clock out. This is something I have to work on. I work until I transition to sleep and I don’t like that. I’m working on ways to prioritize my lists so that I can enjoy my evenings with no laptop in sight. I’ll keep you posted.
Lastly, let’s use Starbucks to put it into perspective. You have the tall, grande, and venti options. Let’s just say, the last of the three is definitely not lagom. The same goes for a 7-11 Big Gulp.
Nordics fun facts.
In Finland, Since 1938, new moms receive a government-issued baby box filled with necessities for the baby.
Scandinavian countries consistently rank as the happiest people in the world.
Denmark burns the most significant amount of candles in the world.
Norwegians, in certain parts of the country, experience days with no sunlight.
Legos were invented in Denmark.