Want to know what it means to be cozy from countries rated among the highest on the happiness index? Read on.
I've been hearing a lot about "hygge" recently, which, from what I saw online, seemed to be the Danish idea of what it means to be cozy. After having read a book on Swedish Death Cleaning, I decided to take a closer look at what this area of the world thinks about what it means to live a cozy life. After all, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are known as the countries whose citizens score the highest on the world Happiness Report. So, what is their secret? Lucky for us, there are several books coming out recently that reveal how we can increase our happiness.
Coziness Principles that lead to happiness
Danes and Norwegians believe that it's important to add elements of coziness, or hygge, to their lives. This involves many principles, among them mainly making life easy, taking time out for oneself and one's loved ones, socializing, and treating oneself once in a while to something comforting. See a previous article on The Cozy Mystery Library about hygge.
The law of Jante is really a principle of equality in which people are not supposed to place themselves above anyone else. Egoistic thinking is not only not approved, but the opposite is taken to a bit of extreme - to the point where the Danes don’t take this law too seriously, though they still stick to the general principle. The idea is that no one should think of themselves as smarter, more important, or better than others. They shouldn’t laugh at or try to teach others things as if they know better. Instead, they see anyone they meet as being neither above or below themselves. It also nips the idea that anyone needs to compare themselves to others or "keep up with the Joneses."
The Swedish principle of Lagom is like the "Goldilocks" concept of "just right." The general idea is that in order to live a cozy, happy life, one must live in moderation. In other words, eat, drink, and be merry - but don't eat too much, drink too much or go overboard on the merriness. How much is too much? This is open to debate and a conversation starter to be sure, but at the end of any healthy debate about lagoon, the answer is always left to the individual to decide how much is appropriate to oneself. Knowing your own limits and what's healthy for you - knowing yourself- is the key to lagom.
At first glance, the Danish word for happiness seems like just a simple translation, but after Denmark has scored high on happiness year after year, researchers took note of what Lykke involves. They've come up with several principles of Lykke by studying Danish habits. What makes for lykke? Much as one would expect having healthy habits, a trust of others (including strangers!), being encouraged to have freedom to choose one's life paths, spending time together, spending money wisely, and practicing kindness all make the list. While these are all individual choices to a certain point, living within a culture that promotes these concepts adds to the feeling of lykke a person can achieve. Still, as more and more people promote habits that lead to lykke, it is possible to gain happiness - especially nations where we fall just below Scandanavian level of happiness such as here in the US. (Yes, we scored 14 on the list in 2021, so still not bad overall.)
Finland is supposed to be the happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. This may be because of the Finnish belief in having Sisu, or inner strength. Sisu is a mix of courage and resilience that gets a person through anything - a sort of "never-give-up" quality that translates directly to "guts," but means so much more. Belief in oneself, pride, courage, resolve, positivity - these are all a part of sisu. But how do we get that kind of grit and determination in ourselves? Even though sisu is an individual's inner strength, it's Finnish social circles that make them stronger by continually reminding each other of what they can achieve. It's important to note that self-compassion is a part of Sisu. It's not about ignoring doubts, fears, or hurts, but about taking a positive long-view that whatever the problem, one will get through it all right.
What Really Makes Us Happy
I've read many books on happiness over the years, as well as books on longevity, and living one's best life. What comes up again and again in every book? Community. Humans are social creatures. While we might derive happiness our spirituality, in living in the moment, or in Scandinavian principles like the ones above, our real happiness lies in being part of something larger than ourselves. Being part of a community doesn't mean that we place our happiness in other people, but that we derive happiness in being helpful to others. Helping a friend or family member, volunteering, or even just doing a job we love with the aim of giving to a larger goal, all of it gives our lives purpose. In my personal opinion, happiness is enigmatic because we can only get it only by giving