“Create a warm space at home, put a comfortable chair, take your favorite book, light the scented candle you love, wrap yorself in a soft blanket, add a pair of wool socks and a cup of hot chocolate” and this is the impression of Hygge. But in fact, Hygge is not just about “pursuing a comfortable life”, but more importantly “sharing a warm time” with relatives and friends.
Taipei, Taiwan (Merxwire) – The word “Hygge” comes from Danish and Norwegian. There is no clear Chinese or English translation. It is probably a leisurely feeling with warmth and comfort, and it’s the symbol of all Danish life we have seen. Food and wine are basic, filled with candlelight, desserts, coffee, soft wool blankets, and a fireplace. “Hygge” not only represents the concept of pursuing a comfortable life, but also the joy of “sharing a warm time” with relatives and friends. It represents exploring and enjoying the simple little things of everyday life, but also time spent with family and friends.
Most people long to live a comfortable life, so when the Danes put forward the concept of “Hygge”, everyone’s first impression is always food, red wine, scented candles, thick wool socks, etc., these items which will make your life more comfortable. But in fact, “Hygge” is not only to make yourself comfortable but also to care about the feelings of family and friends around you and the close connection in group relationships. The Danes naturally combine these elements and practice this simple life, so we can say that “Hygge” summarizes all the good things in Nordic life.
10 Happiest countries in the world
According to the “World Happiness Report” released by the United Nations in 2021, among the 149 countries and regions in the world, the top ten happiest countries are Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, and Austria. The five Nordic countries Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway all made the list. The survey focuses on aspects such as income, life expectancy, freedom, government corruption, and social support, as well as how people evaluate their own happiness in life. The survey questions include “Did you laugh a lot yesterday?”, “What did you learn yesterday?” or “Have you been respected all day?” to assess how you feel about yourself.
The main reasons that make the five Nordic countries rank among the happiest countries every year are the perfect public facilities, the education system that respects both students and teachers, low crime rates, declining suicide rates, less discrimination, love and trust in group relationships, and their high trust in the government. The CEO of the Danish Happiness Research Institute, Meik Wiking, thought Finns are the least likely to be unhappy in the world because they can always reduce the causes of unhappiness and turn the wealth they own into happiness. In this list, due to the successful prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic, Taiwanese’ trust level in the government has increased, and the ranking has risen from 24th to 19th. Taiwan is the number one in Asia.
Nordic Happiness Philosophy
Put family first, the most important thing is the quality of life, not material things.
In Northern Europe, people leave work around 4-5 pm, and almost no one stays to work overtime, just because they want to go home to be with their family or enjoy the leisure time after getting off work. Even if they work past 6 pm the pay is 1.5 times and above 10 pm it is 2 times. If they have work to do, they will choose to go to the company early in the morning to work overtime and will never sacrifice time with their families and children. Swedish men are famous for their love of children. In Nordic public places such as airports, diaper tables are often set up in men’s toilets to facilitate taking care of children. In Nordic, families are always ranked first, and they focus on the quality of life, followed by material.
The golden mean, enough is the best, an appropriate attitude towards life.
In Sweden, in addition to getting off work on time and pursuing a comfortable Hygge life, there is another central idea called “Lagom”. “Lagom” means equal division among groups in the Viking Age, which means “not too little, not too much, just right” in Swedish. This is an appropriately neutral attitude to life. The Swedes believe that “enough is best” (Lagom är bäst), and that there should be proper moderation even they live leisurely. Bertil Marklund, a Swedish doctor, believes that an attitude to life in line with the golden mean, including shorter working hours, mandatory afternoon tea time, and 33 days of annual leave, is just the right way for Swedes to live a long life.
Attaches great importance to spiritual value and pursues a simple, natural, and balanced life.
If you have been to Northern Europe, you should not see high-rise buildings and brand-name sedan cars, but clean and tidy streets. Some people are jogging, some are riding bicycles, and some are sitting on street corners with a coffee and books. Life is simple, and spiritual value is above all else. They do not pursue excessive material enjoyment, do not want extreme pressure or blindly follow trends, and truly know how to live. The design is simple, advocating nature, and the attitude towards life is appropriate. The most important thing is to have a pure dialogue with people and nature. With a neutral view of all things so they can enjoy a comfortable life but maintain a consistent and balanced diet, regular exercise, and satisfy with “enough is best”.
Test Your Happiness Index with 5 Five-item Well-Being Index of WHO (WHO-5)
Are you feeling happy? Even if we don’t live in Nordic, are you able to release stress appropriately? Are you able to enjoy life leisurely? Are you able to balance work and life and maintain a healthy body and mind? The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in 1948 as “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Therefore, it is not that the absence of disease is healthy, and the psychological state and social level must also be balanced to achieve complete health. Please refer to the 5 Five-item Well-Being Index of WHO in the figure below to make a simple assessment for yourself and see how much your well-being index is.
For the following five questions, please tick the feeling that was closest to you in the past two weeks. The higher the number, the higher the happiness. For example, in the past two weeks, you felt cheerful and in good spirits most of the time, you can get 4 points, please add points when you are done.
- Scoring: Multiply the raw score by 4 to get a percentage score from 0 to 100. A percentage score of 0 may represent the worst quality of life, and a score of 100 may represent the best quality of life.
- Note: When the raw score is lower than 13 or any of the five questions has a score of 0 or 1, it is recommended to test the depression scale (ICD-10). A raw score below 13 indicates low well-being and is an indicator of depression.
Adjust your lifestyle and slow down, then embrace nature
If there are too many things in your life that make you feel unhappy, or you couldn’t feel happy most of the time, find a person with the most smiles or the most positive energy around you, and ask him to share how to keep smiling and maintain positive thinking. Adjust your schedule, don’t let work take up more than 70% of your life, and reallocate your time. You can make time for gatherings with friends and family, exercise, and do things that interest you to balance your life. Slow down your breathing rate and the pace of life. Practice abdominal breathing with 10 minutes of meditation at night and you could organize and settle the complicated emotions of the day. At the same time, it could also relieve the pain and discomfort of the body, and let the muscles and your mood relax together.
Find some time to go outside for a walk! Nature is the best healing magician. Eric Brisbare, a French tree healer, has integrated 6 major health benefits of trees, including reducing stress, relieving depression, improving insomnia, stimulating the immune system, and relieving diabetes and respiratory diseases. Scientific research has also confirmed that trees and forests have practical and positive effects on physical and mental health. Regularly going to nature to enjoy forest baths can boost tired body and mind, help restore vitality and self-confidence, replenish positive energy, and regain a sense of balance in life. It is conceivable why Finns with a forest coverage rate as high as 72% become the happiest people in the world.