According to the World Happiness Report, Scandinavian countries have been ranked the happiest countries in the world for several years in a row. Despite there being very little sun, a lot of cold and long winter, Scandinavian people are still the most content in the world. The reason for this is the approach to life they practice. Here are some of the most popular Scandinavian life philosophies that can make you happier. Read more about the 5 Scandinavian Life Philosophies that Can Make You Happier
It is highly possible that you are already familiar with this term. Despite not being native to the English language, fika is something that has just happened to get successfully adopted into the active vocabulary of English speakers. It has a lot of different uses around the world, so there are various ways in which you might have heard about it. Perhaps, you came across it in popular culture, or maybe it is something your Swedish friends bring up in a conversation from time to time, or it could even be that you visited one of the cafés with this name since it is a popular name for Swedish-style coffee houses around the world. But do you know what fika really refers to?
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Literally, Fika is simply another name for ‘coffee break’. It was originally formed by changing the syllables in “kaffe,” the Swedish word for coffee. In its essence, however, fika is much more than just a coffee break. In fact, it is a rather specific Swedish philosophy that helps people find their inner peace and alter their attitude towards life in general once adopted.
In order to understand this concept better, it is important to get down to the cultural specifics of having a coffee break in Scandinavian countries. Unlike the rest of the world where caffeinated products are consumed primarily to wake up and focus better on completion of different tasks, in Sweden coffee is a drink symbolic of slowing down and stepping away from all your problems at least for a little while. While Americans and a lot of Europeans treat coffee as a stimulant and something that will help them work faster and will fuel them up (overall, in the minds of a lot of people, a central attribute of a pretty stressful environment), Swedish people, on the contrary, turn to coffee breaks to breathe out and relax for a moment.
Fika culture in Sweden is very peculiar: coffee, or tea, as a matter of fact, is mostly an excuse to savor the moment. It is all about giving yourself a minute to enjoy your life and dissociate from your daily stress. There is no fixed policy on how fika should be done, you can either do it alone, focusing on your own thoughts and contemplating your life or gather with your friends to catch up! One way or another, it should always be something to look forward to, something that gives you peace and allows you to retreat from pressure.
The only thing you need to do is being consistent when incorporating fika in your life. After all, it is a necessity to be able to have a moment for yourself without feeling you are doing that at the expense of your productivity. If you do so, you will immediately become calmer and subsequently happier!
Unlike the rest of Scandinavian philosophies outlined on this list, Friluftsliv is a concept that focuses on fostering not only your spiritual well-being but also your physical health.
The concept of Friluftsliv is decoded in the translation of this Norwegian word. It can be translated into English as ‘free air life’. And, in its essence, this is exactly what Friluftsliv is about – spending more time outside and feeling more connected with nature.
What constitutes a great part of this philosophy is understanding that no matter how urbanistic and busy your life is, what really matters is your inner balance and your harmony with yourself and the world around you. The best way to find it is by establishing a mindful connection between you and the outer world, nature in particular. For a lot of Scandinavian people, this means getting out there to camp and go to the forest. But in reality, Friluftsliv is a philosophy open to interpretation and amendments. You may replace a forest or mountain retreat with a simple half an hour stroll in the park next to your house and still get a lot of use out of it! After all, it is not about the place itself, but rather the experience you get to live through. Forgetting about the never stopping rhythm of a big city and going back to your roots will not only clear your mind and let you think straight but will also improve your health significantly. It is proven that being in the fresh air helps to lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension as well as reduce your stress levels. And a healthy person is always a much happier person!
Hygge is often regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture, which makes complete sense granted that Danish people are among the happiest people in the world. Hygge refers to the practice of appreciating your life no matter what and preaching positivity in everything you do and say.
The term itself can be translated from Danish as “coziness of the soul”. And can best describe the feeling of being tucked in a blanket with your loved one and a hot drink warming up your hands. The moment is absolutely immaculate, care-free, and extremely cozy.
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If anything, hygge is all about allowing yourself to indulge in things that make you feel good, and things that you enjoy without giving yourself second thoughts and doubting whether you deserve a special moment like that or not. Because the answer is always the same: you do!
Adapting hygge as a part of your lifestyle is an amazing way to heighten the feeling of the world being a happy place since you focus on multiplying the moments when you feel the most content and aligned with your wishes. Besides, by surrounding yourself with the people that you love and the ones that love you back, you create an atmosphere of trust and overall feel more secure, especially if things in the outside world are starting to feel a bit negative.
Lagom is a word that originates from the Swedish language and can be best translated into English as ‘optimal’ or ‘moderate’. The name of this philosophy is pretty self-explanatory. The concept teaches people that everything is good in moderation and you should be extreme in neither your beliefs nor your actions.
This concept is also great for understanding that you need to be flexible and tolerant when it comes to hearing out other people. While it is important to stand on your own grounds and protect what you believe in, you need to make sure that you are not going overboard and can compromise effectively. If you come to this, you will instantly see how easy it is to be more content with the people around you.
Lagom is all about finding the right balance that would lead to maximum enjoyment. Essentially, it means focusing on listening to your body and learning what your body and soul really need. After all, it is fulfilling those needs as opposed to being too centered on what you think is needed that will bring you true happiness!
At last but definitely not at least, Lykke is an important part of the complex of Scandinavian life philosophies that can make you happier.
Lykke is the Danish and Norwegian word for ‘happiness’, so, naturally, the concept of Lykke teaches people to focus on the things that are pivotal for alleviating the levels of joy within themselves.
According to Meik Wiking, the author of the book “The Little Book of Lykke”, happiness comprises several key factors: togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness.
In order to be genuinely happy, you need to balance your life out in such a way that you pay close attention to all those parts of your life so that none of them is lacking. While it might sound like a lot of work (fair enough, it is not the easiest thing to complete), you will be surprised how tightly interlinked all these things are once you try to adapt this approach. If you work on your togetherness, you are simultaneously increasing your levels of trust and kindness, while improving your money directly affects your freedom etc.
5 Scandinavian Life Philosophies that Can Make You Happier, written for Daily Scandinavian by Louis Robidoux. Louis is a blogger who enjoys writing articles that are of great interest to society. After having lots of posts published on different platforms, Louis decided to create his own site deeptop10.com where he’s covering topics about food, interesting hacks and lifestyle.
Feature image (on top): Copyright Visit Denmark