Time and again, Scandinavian nations have been ranked as some of the happiest countries in the world.
In fact, the World Happiness Report reveals that the five Nordic nations – Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland – have all been in the top 10 happiest countries on the planet. Moreover, Nordic countries occupied the top three spots in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
The report said: “There seems to be no secret sauce specific to Nordic happiness that is unavailable to others. There is rather a more general recipe for creating delighted citizens”.
With that in mind, continue reading to discover five lessons from your cheery Nordic neighbours that could improve your own happiness.
1. Foster a strong work-life balance
Many people in Scandinavian nations prioritise their work-life balance. Generally, they don’t aim to accumulate wealth, but rather search for harmony between their life and work.
In fact, Nordic countries tend to have:
- Relatively short working weeks
- Remote and flexible working structures
- Plenty of opportunities for breaks
- Generous parental leave schemes.
Free time is also paramount in Scandinavian nations, and many see working late as a weakness as it shows that you can’t complete your tasks in the allotted workday.
To improve your own work-life balance, remember that it’s okay to say “no” to things that aren’t a priority in your life, as this can free up more time to do the things that are important to you.
Moreover, it may be wise to avoid checking your emails and other work socials outside of working hours and learn to switch off. In fact, you may even want to completely switch your work phone off during time off.
2. Embrace “hygge”
“Hygge” is a Danish word that doesn’t have a direct English translation. It essentially encompasses a feeling of cosy contentment and wellbeing by enjoying the simple things in life.
The concept is considered such an essential part of Danish culture that it’s a defining feature of their cultural identity and an integral part of their “national DNA”.
Embrace hygge by doing something as simple as enjoying a book on a Sunday afternoon or a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day. Interestingly, even wearing comfortable tracksuit trousers is considered hygge.
Like many, you probably have a favourite pair of trousers that you’d never wear in public but practically live in while at home. Danes have embraced this idea to such an extent that they have given such comfortable clothing a name, calling them “hyggebusker”.
Ultimately, hygge is all about focusing on, and enjoying, the little things in life, making the most of what you already have. So, make sure you choose the right company for your hygge days – reach out to a handful of your closest friends and family and simply live in the moment with them.
3. Consider “Swedish death cleaning”
While this may sound morbid, “Swedish death cleaning” is actually quite a cathartic activity.
It’s about reaching a certain age and decluttering your life, getting rid of all the things you’ve accumulated that you don’t need any more.
Doing so means that loved ones won’t have to wade through your personal effects after you pass away. Not only could this make clearing out your home easier for your family, but it could also help you declutter your home and mind.
Indeed, a Swedish death cleaning could help you organise your life and ensure it runs more smoothly. You could even turn it into an enjoyable experience, as it can sometimes be a delight to go through your old things, stir up memories of the past, and remember their worth.
What’s more, the activity may even help you cope with the reality of your own mortality.
Sifting through your old memories could serve as a reminder of who you are, how you see yourself, and how you want others to see you after you pass away.
4. Enjoy a relationship with nature
Many people in Finland believe it is easy to find yourself in vast forests, even if you’re only a few minutes out of town.
In fact, many Finns spend time at their summer cottages when the snow eventually melts. And it doesn’t even matter if there’s no running water or electricity, so long as they have a sauna or a lake nearby to swim in.
You, too, could take a page from the Finns’ book and try getting out in nature more to enjoy the serene British countryside.
Spending time in nature can help to:
- Reduce feelings of stress or anger
- Improve your physical health
- Boost your attention.
Simply going out for a walk in a local green space could improve your mood. Or you could escape further into the countryside and try your hand at a new activity, such as fishing or golf.
5. Get to know your community
Scandinavian communities tend to be close-knit and have a greater sense of togetherness, which may contribute to their overall sense of contentment.
This also helps people to trust each other more. In fact, many will leave their cars or homes unlocked, and some mothers even leave their babies sleeping in their prams outside supermarkets while they shop.
A close-knit community can often foster a sense of security, belonging, support, and like-mindedness.
Of course, developing a stronger sense of community may be trickier than some of the other points on this list, especially considering Brits tend to be less community-minded than their Nordic neighbours.
However, you could start by getting to know your neighbours, making more effort to spend time with them or help them out, when possible.
For instance, you could host a party with your neighbours to get to know them, participate in community events close to home, or even volunteer in your local area.
Perhaps one of the best ways to become closer to your community is to essentially become a tourist in your own area. For example, you could join a walking tour or buy tickets to a local sports game so you can enjoy everything your local area has to offer.
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