Scandinavian countries have developed strong reputations for tapping into a high quality of life. Famous for a slow pace that deliberately enjoys every moment, most Scandinavians are the envy of the world around them. Learn more about Scandinavian lessons for everyday life.
However, much of the lifestyle success of places like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden doesn’t come from an inherent value of the geographic locations themselves. It stems from the culture and habits of the people that live within them.
Here are some of the best lessons that Scandinavians can teach the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to living well every day.
Find Reasons to Slow Down
One of the biggest challenges of the modern world is figuring out how to slow down. Everything from work and school to push notifications keeps people moving forward at all hours of the day and night.
In Scandinavia, though, the natural pace of the local culture regularly counteracts the breakneck speed of modern life. For instance, rather than nabbing a coffee on the way to work or to wake up, a Swede will use it as an opportunity to slow down and bond with others.
In the same manner, they’ll also steer into regular vacations. On top of that, rather than using time off as a chance to quickly recharge before getting back into the thick of things, Swedes tend to purposefully integrate breaks and chances to slow down right into the very essence of their way of life.
Embrace a Hygge Atmosphere
Hygge has taken the world by storm, and with good reason, too. The untranslatable Danish word is the essence of comfort, coziness, and an all-around good time.
Hygge is a concept that impacts everything from food and socialization to clothes and even candles.
One area where it can have a powerful impact on the way that one sees the world is with home decor. Everything from furniture to the overall interior design of a home can have a comfy, clean Hygge focus that helps a person slow down and unplug every day.
Cultivate Real Friendships
Having a friend is a far cry different (and better) than having an endless number of acquaintances. Many Western cultures focus on the perfunctory act of “going out” to bars, clubs, and restaurants to meet others or hang out with people. This typically leads to shallow friendships and short-term relationships.
In Scandinavia, where work-life balance is essential, people often take the time to parse between friends and acquaintances. Rather than prioritizing meeting people, in general, they steer into finding intimate time spent with a handful of close friends.
In his book “The Little Book of Hygge,” author Meik Wiking points out that, when asked how many people were required to properly Hygge together, 20% of Danes claimed that just two were required, while 57% said three to four. Only 9% said five to 10 people and a measly 1% said more than 10. In other words, Danes understand that you don’t need a crowd to create friendships. On the contrary, a group that is few in numbers facilitates true intimacy.
Make Happiness a Destination
Finally, the West has long been aware of the concept of “pursuing happiness.” And yet, most Westerners end up using the essential emotion as a means to an end. In Scandinavia, happiness is valued in and of itself. It’s a destination rather than a path, so to speak.
For instance, the Danish word “Lykke” means happy, and it’s attached to a variety of different words that help to cultivate a sense of joy, warmth, and meaning. The meaning of happiness in Danish culture is profound, as it’s much more than a fleeting feeling, indicating a sense of trust, stability, humbleness, safety, and balance.
While many Scandinavians have taken the time to speak English as a second language for business and personal reasons, it’s important for visitors to also learn about each Scandinavian language, as well. If they can do so, they just might find the hidden, often untranslatable gems that they hold, many of which can be the key to unlock important concepts like happiness, comfort, and humbleness.
The Concoction of Scandinavian Contentedness
There’s no doubt that Scandinavians have tapped into a unique theme of contentedness in their daily life. Things like Hygge, happiness, friendships, and simply being in the moment blend together to deliver a quality of life practically unrivaled in the civilized world.
The best part is the interchangeable, tangled nature of all of these benefits. Elements like happiness, friendships, and work-life balance all come together to form Scandinavian life in a concoction of contentedness that is impossible to unravel or turn into a prescribable formula for success.
Instead, foreigners from every place and all walks of life must learn what lessons they can from the spirit of Scandinavian life. They must try to let go of control, be content with what they have, and embrace the here and now. If they can do that, they’ll be able to reproduce the sheer delight and contentedness of Scandinavian life right in their own backyards.
Scandinavian Lessons for Everyday Life, written exclusively for Daily Scandinavian by Beau Peters. Beau is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.
All photos © Unsplash
Feature image (on top): Photo by Allison Christine
Fireplace: Photo by Lucian Alexe
Breakfast: Photo by Jonas Jacobsson
The Hygge Life: Photo by Jonas Jacobsson
Christmas star in window: Photo by Evelin Horvath