According to Statista’s 2019 index, Denmark ranks as the second Happiest Country in the World followed closely with Norway in third, and Iceland for fourth. So what is it about these Northern European countries that have folks so giddy all the time?
Well, that’s a question that has been debated for years as this is not the first time these countries have held top spots on the Index. Yet one emerging trend found while analyzing the Danish and Norwegian lifestyle is the concept of Hygge.
According to Visit Denmark’s website, Hygge simply translated means “coziness” yet captures so much more. Rather, the larger cultural context “means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.”
Observe Danish and Norwegian daily life and you’ll notice Hygge in a multitude of ways. In summer, friends gather for picnics in the park, while in winter folks snuggle up in a blanket and sip on mulled wine; they find joy in the little things.
So if you’re wanting to bring a little Hygge to your home, here are a few ideas to inspire you:
Enjoy the Simple Pleasures
The next time you enjoy a cup of coffee or maybe some afternoon tea, do so with extra intention. Leave your phone in the other room, turn off any nearby electronics, snuggle up on your comfiest chair or couch, and take it all in. Sniff the steamy aromas, feel the heat warm your fingertips, sink deeper into your seat, and enjoy with no distractions; you may just find it’s the best cup of coffee you’ve ever experienced.
Be Present and Grateful
One common difference between folks who are happy and those who are not is gratitude. It’s easy to look at things you wish you had in life, from cars and money to a smaller waist and longer legs. Yet all that energy is being wasted on wishing and wanting, when instead you can choose to invest it in a more positive mindset. Every morning when you wake-up, or each night before you go to sleep, bring to mind three things you’re grateful for. Maybe it’s your health, your supportive spouse, your fluffy puppy, or even the fact you have a roof over your head. Whatever your life looks like right now, take a moment; pause, be present, and choose gratitude.
Snuggle in Bed a Little Longer
Some research suggests that how much we sleep directly correlates with our overall happiness. In fact, when we are sleep deprived, we may be at a higher risk for depression and experience elevated stress levels. So the next time you think you need to race out of bed to make it to that very important thing, skip the rush. Add an extra hour to your time in bed, whether that is going to sleep earlier or setting the alarm ahead of schedule, and indulge in some extra snuggles in your sheets.
While you’re snuggled up at home, consider visiting the National Nordic Museum in Ballard virtually.
Try a New Activity or Hobby
The benefits of trying a new hobby or activity are abundant; from being a great stress reliever, to offer new ways of thinking of things, to even allowing a chance to more deeply discover yourself. And what better time to try a different activity or hobby than today? If you’re traditionally a physically-driven personality, like an athlete or exercise-fiend, maybe try something on the internal or creative side, like painting or journaling. And if you’re typically more of an artistic-type, test the analytical waters like with computer programming or learn a new tactical board game.
Cultivate a Comfortable Atmosphere
One noticeable cultural aspect of most Northern European countries is their attention to design. Stop by a Danish home and you’re likely going to fall-in-love with their interior decorating skills. So why not take a page from their book and spruce up your surroundings, too? A few tips include focusing on neutral or calming colors, opening the space to allow for more natural light, and incorporating soft light or candles in the room. Oh, and don’t forget the comfy blankets and seating options – if you read the above tips, those are obviously very important.
What is more comforting than a delicious homemade meal? Whipping up a fresh-out-the-oven pastry or hand-seasoned meatballs are some popular Danish options. Yet you may find Hygge from digging up your Grandma’s chicken pot pie recipe, baking some chocolate chip cookies, or indulging in a glass of hot apple cider. Whatever your palate craves, cook up something comforting and familiar you’ll feel the benefits of Hygge from your belly to your heart.
Image by KatarzynaBialasiewicz