Scandinavia is perceived by many as a place of longing, an unspoiled place of refuge that they visit every year on holiday. The reasons for this differ, but generally it is the friendly and forthcoming nature of its people that are at the heart of its success. Since, according to the so-called World Happiness Reports, the Norwegians and Danes are the happiest people in the world. After all, they live according to the recipe of happiness named hygge, which will be examined more thoroughly in the following text.
How did this positive attitude towards life come about?
According to the above-mentioned report, the happiness of the Scandinavians can be explained by the state of society. Thus, the wages are generally decent, there is a social support and security, life expectancy is usually high, and people have a sense of freedom. Another reason for their happiness is that Northern Europeans have a particular way of life. We hear ever more frequently of the Danish living and lifestyle trend known as hygge. Translated into English, it means cozy, pleasant or nice. In this context, great importance is attached to making the environment as comfortable as possible, and great value is also placed on the smaller things. Hygge can be a lot of things:
- baking on your own
- sitting in front of the fireplace
- watching a movie on the couch
- enjoying an evening with friends
- being a good host
- knitting, sewing or crocheting
- painting on canvas with pastel colors
- creating clear structures
A fully packed book shelf, however, does not apply to the idea. Rather, the books are sorted by color to create a certain structure. There aren’t many different frames hanging on the wall, but rather a large painting with a soothing theme. In addition, it is important to avoid discussing politics, letting stress arise, being cold, or accumulating anger for whatever reason. Essentially, this lifestyle is nothing new, but has now received its own name, hygge.
How do the Danes live hygge?
The Danes place a great deal of value in socializing and serenity. Every bit of stress is too much and should be, if possible, avoided. Thus, cozy evenings among friends, warm candlelight, delicious food, quiet music, and pleasant conversations acquire a completely different meaning. For many Danes, hygge is a perfect counterbalance to a busy working day and the ideal solution to dark and grey winter evenings. But the trend is also set to continue during the summer.
Because staying outside in plain nature and observing the birds also contributes to the serenity. An extensive bicycle tour with a subsequent picnic is one of the favorite activities. Thus, it is clear that hygge provides a comfortable feeling both in winter and in summer, which leads to increased awareness of safety, familiarity and warmth. In Denmark, a great importance is attached to the fact that hygge is suitable for everyone.
No matter whether rich or poor, this living and lifestyle trend can be lived by everyone. Because in this case it is not about money, but rather about the moment. The goal is to make the most of it by learning to not take certain things for granted. Thus, enjoying a delicious piece of cake or snow scrunching under the feet can become something very special. Especially in a digitized time, where everything is about technology, many people do not appreciate these things anymore, but the Danes still do.
Whining and crying are quite permissible
Even while living the hygge lifestyle, it is allowed to whine and cry. Because even then, something can come about differently than desired. The difference is, however, that consolation is not found in chocolate or chips, but rather in homemade cinnamon biscuits or a delicious cake. For example, if the employment contract is not prolonged or something is going wrong in one’s private life, people look for a safe haven. And it is actually so close: one’s own home. It is a place where one should be able to feel comfortable and forget about all the worries.
The new lifestyle is based on the principle of moderation
As early as in the so-called Biedermeier period a similar trend was observed. At that time, there was a lot of social instability, which caused many people to retire to their cozy living room and listen to some domestic music. Many of today’s living rooms are filled with designer sofas and offer different sources of entertainment, using different social media platforms. Hygge seems to be a refreshing change in this regard. Because even without smartphones, tablets and their related devices, it is possible to live a normal life – and much more relaxed at that. In this case, you wouldn’t have a constant feed of horrific messages and wouldn’t be on the constant lookout to find out whether an acquaintance has posted something new.
Many people who live hygge design their own four walls individually, making them resemble an old Scandinavian home. This encompasses many wooden elements, white colors and soft light sources, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere.
Retreat from the globalized world
In the context of hygge, terrorism, cyber criminality or various financial crises are not important. Instead, the lifestyle can be perceived as a form of counter-reaction to the globalized world. It is thus preferred to eat a piece of cake on the couch, rather than having to deal with the menacing new reality. Political activity doesn’t play a very important role in hygge either. The energy is rather used to find happiness in various activities. These are usually so simple that nothing can be done wrong.
There are currently two different contact points for foreigners who would like to learn hygge. Various workshops for satisfaction are offered at the so-called School of Life, which can help, for example, to cope more successfully and happier with the stressful everyday life. And the so-called Morley College offers a Danish course where hygge also plays a role. However, it is quite difficult for foreigners to get to know the Danish way of life on the ground. This is because of the fact that foreigners are regarded as unhyggelig and rarely invited.
Hygge ensures that the longing for simplicity is satisfied. And this in a world in which not everyone can afford to have little.