There’s something about the Scandinavian culture that makes it unique in the world. Maybe it’s the fact that even on a warm summer’s day the thermometer is unlikely to rise much above 70oF. Or it could be that in the winter it gets dark just after dinner time. Whatever it is, people in those countries have a very distinctive way of looking at the world that can be summed up in some very different concepts.
And, while we wouldn’t necessarily want to import everything wholesale from those countries, here are five ideas which could improve all of our lives.
The Danish concept of Hygge was the very first of these to enter into the rest of the world’s consciousness. That was back in 2016 when it even made it to be runner-up as the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year. It was in stark contrast to the actual winner “post-truth” and defines a feeling of warm cosiness and conviviality. Three years on, it’s still a big buzzword for style-makers.
That’s not to say that many people feel that the Swedish idea of lagom is the latest thing that we should all be aspiring to as well. It’s the idea of having the perfect amount of something whether it’s money, food, work or leisure time. Further than that, it’s also about having a life in perfect balance and harmony without either excess or shortage leading to the sort of contentment that hygge is said to bring.
The Finnish word Sisu is an expression of the sorts of inner resources and Viking spirit needed to overcome a particularly difficult or unwelcome task. There’s also an element of the true grit needed to succeed against the odds. The Finns are especially proud to associate the word with their national character and, for the rest of us, it’s a far nicer way of expressing determination than just telling someone to “man up”!
Tell a Norwegian that you’re experiencing a little gruglede and chances are that they’ll put their arm around your shoulders and give you a reassuring hug. That’s because it’s the feeling you get when you’re looking forward to something with excitement but also a little dread. It’s this duality of feeling that the word expresses that’s different from most English words. It’s also something that a little sisu will help you to overcome.
Let’s end on a high with the Danish word lykke. It literally means “happiness” but it actually represents far more than this. It’s also combined with a feeling of being especially fortunate and even blessed. This can refer to all parts of your life including finances, relationships and even where you live. And if you’re wondering what qualifies the country to define the concept, Denmark is officially one of the happiest countries in the world.
So, whichever one of these concepts you decide to introduce into your life we hope it makes a big difference – and it might even get you eating more herring and meatballs too!