My wife and I just returned from a trip to Scandinavia, visiting Denmark and Sweden. We had an amazing time exploring Copenhagen and Stockholm, experiencing Swedish nature, and spending quality time with some family and close friends. While we were there, we were curious as to why Scandinavian countries are so often said to be the happiest …what is their secret? Here are a few things we think contribute to their happy lifestyle.
It’s all about the Hygge
Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) is a Danish concept that essentially means coziness. Danes take the time and care to make sure their living spaces have good Hygge. Think fresh flowers, candles, natural light, comfortable furniture, and other small things that help you to feel relaxed and at home. Experiment at work with ways to bring more Hygge into the office!
Make time for Fika
In Sweden, Fika (pronounced FEE-kah) is a part of everyday life. Fika (which can be used as a noun or a verb) is simply a social coffee break that the Swedes make sure happens at least once a day. Fika should always include good company and some kind of tasty treat to go along with the coffee and tea. Whether at work or at home, be sure take a break out of your day, slow down, and Fika!
In Scandinavia, there is beautiful nature all around and people make it a priority to get outside. Whether riding bikes, cross-country skiing, exploring mountains and fjords, or taking a stroll in the forest looking for mushrooms and berries, Scandinavians love to be outdoors. My Swedish friend recently told me that more and more doctors in Sweden are telling patients with depression to take a silent walk in the forest. And guess what? Research is showing that patients are improving when they do this!
Keep things in perspective
Our culture here in the States can be stressful at times. Our schedules can become so busy that we forget to take time to be with family and friends and to simply relax. From what we experienced, Scandinavians are talented at keeping things in perspective and creating time to do things they enjoy and be with those they love. Work is important, but is not everything. This trip was a great reminder of that.