"The Danes are the happiest people in the world," according to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. They base their lives on a Danish philosophy of comfort and togetherness and it has helped them for years. Since the 18th-century, hygge (pronounced hue-gah) has been a guide to many of the Danish. They believe that observing the ordinary in everyday moments can be magical like sitting in your preferred chair in the living room or admiring nature. It is a way to create beautiful moments when faced with the mundane. But why did the Danish decide to create this movement throughout their culture? Simply, they were getting bored and were becoming increasingly restless during the harsh dark months of winter. They made it a point to celebrate the small things in life by spending time with friends, creating home-cooked meals or cozening with a cup of tea by candlelight to combat the doldrums. This is the “art of creating intimacy” and the road to simplicity equates to happiness. Here are 5 happiness cues from the Danish that we all should consider anytime of the year.
Reconnect with People
When the thaw comes in the spring and we embrace the warmth of the sun--we can still enjoy the chill of winter in the meantime. In Denmark, people are often ruled by heavy snow and icy winds. The locals found something to look forward to and what else could be better than inviting people over to eat! We loose touch with people since we are always busy with life and with kids. One way to reconnect is to host a dinner party that has a theme (Danish cuisine, hint, hint). No matter where you live, connecting over food is a great way to rekindle relationships with people. Send invites for dinner and do this periodically as a family. Make it a new tradition.
Another way to embrace the art of hygge is to forgive or as it is called "tilgivelse" in Danish. Being isolated because we refuse to forgive another person will not give you happiness--it will lead to a bitter and lonely life. We are not talking about only forgiving those who have hurt us. But we need to forgive ourselves for our own blunders. Simply, forgiveness can mean a difference in our joy and in our emotional freedom. Even if the person does not accept your apology, do it anyway for your own happiness. If you need to forgive yourself, do it now. Then let it go and move on.
Be a Giver
Part of becoming happier in life is becoming a giver. There is power in helping others and this is the reason Denmark is consistently voted to have the happiest people on the earth. There is more equality in Denmark as the country provides free health care, free education and a better work-family balance than most countries. In a society where we are mostly focused on how to achieve the next goal or to climb the ladder of success, assisting others usually takes a backseat. When we give a meal or are simply more kind to people, it gives us joy.
Unplug From Electonics
Try the hygge manifesto of unplugging from electronics at least once a week. This is hard for most of us who are constantly checking out Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Social media has become an obsession and some of us are addicted to it. Try shutting down the computer and start conversations with people instead of looking at your phone. With so much competing for your attention, unplugging for a time will help you settle into a needed stillness that we all need. This will also help you with living in the moment. Build a new narrative outside the confines of social media and your iPhone by unplugging.
Use the Power of Gratitude
We've been hearing about gratitude and how it is beneficial to our joy, and rightfully so. Gratitude improves the immune system and it builds a resistance to jealousy and anger. The Danish live by the principle of appreciating what you have now as it might be as good as it gets. If you need help, create a list of all the blessings that you have in your life. You might be astonished at how much you do have. Take the pressure off like the Danes do and live a more robust life by being more grateful.
The people living in Denmark are the happiest in the world, according to the United Nations. The tradition of hygge has played a role in this and has helped them to find the beauty in the modest things in life. Things like sharing comfort food with friends, drinking coffee in the early morning on a comfy chair or embracing the act of giving all account to having a happier life. By making these small changes in your life now, it can lead to lasting joy.