7 Reasons Why Nordic People Are Considered to Be the Happiest and What We Can Learn From Them

Every year, Nordic countries top the list of the countries with the world’s happiest people. Apparently, neither the harsh climate conditions nor rare sunny days can bring Scandinavians down. There’s been a recent global trend of the Norwegian concept of hygge, which means living a simple and cozy life surrounded by your loved ones. But each Nordic nation has its own recipe of wellness and happiness and they’re worth implementing into our own lives.

We at Smiles Tv have collected a couple of cool Scandi words and expressions that define a simple and happy life and we can’t wait to share them with our readers!

Sisu: Finnish for inner peace and strength



In 2017, The Times put the Finnish concept of Sisu on the list of key trends that come from Scandinavia. This word cannot be accurately translated into English, but it roughly means the following: “If something needs to be done, it will be done.” At any cost. Sisu stands for resilience and courage. It teaches you how to give up unnecessary words and excessive emotions.

It’s no good to hurry except when killing fleas.

The voiceless is the wisest of the fools.

Finnish proverbs

To embrace the spirit of Sisu, The Times suggests you say certain words without making any facial expressions. However, the point is not how exactly to talk, but to talk only about the case. Sisu means no more meaningless chatter, complaints, and showing off. It’s the philosophy of Sisu that makes the Finns appreciate social equality and it’s exactly why they are so calm, persistent, and self-sufficient.

Lagom: exactly how much a Swedish person needs

Lagom is a special skill necessary to live a balanced life. Literally, this concept can be translated as “just enough, not too much or too little.” Lagom is everywhere in the Swedish society, including economics and business management. The real lagom begins when a person has put everything in order in their own life — they keep everything under control and they’re surrounded by fellow citizens who stand by the same principles. Undoubtedly, this is something that is very hard to achieve. But if you like the concept of lagom, the best thing is to start with yourself because practical rationality has never hurt anybody.

Lagom-parable

One day, an old cat met a kitten who was chasing his own tail and running and jumping around in circles. He asked the little one what he was doing.

The kitten replied, “I was told that my tail is my happiness. So, I’m just trying to catch my happiness.”

The old cat smiled and said, “You know, when I was young, I was told that my tail was my happiness too. So many days I was trying to catch it... I was exhausted, I was in despair, so I decided to quit and just move on with my life. And suddenly I noticed something.”

“What did you notice?” asked the kitten impatiently.

“I discovered that my tail was there all along, following me.”

Toru Ville. Glugge. The Scandinavian Happiness: Drinking Tea in Your Pyjamas

To become lagom-happy, Toru Ville recommends keeping your income and spending in balance, to cut down on your energy and water consumption, to reduce the amount of garbage, and to reuse old things instead of buying new ones.

Arbejdsglæde: the Danish way to love your job

The ability to enjoy what you do for a living, Arbejdsglæde, is another concept of happiness for the Danes, who have earlier introduced the concept of hygge to the world. Every year, market intelligence and employer branding company Universum Global publishes the results of a study that measures employees’ satisfaction with their work in different countries around the world. As expected, Nordic countries always top the list.

“Local municipalities can fund absences of up to a year before suggesting reduced working hours and offering job counselling for Danes diagnosed with stress.”

Helen Russell. The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country

To get the concept of arbejdsglæde, you should provide an honest answer to the following question — why are you working where you currently are? Find benefits in your work, try to get along with your colleagues and supervisors, perform your duties as they’re expected to be done, and keep working on improving your skills. If all of this seems impossible to you, then it’s time for you to think about changing your job. After all, according to the Danes, a person is truly happy when they are happy to go to work and feel the same about going home in the evening.

Friluftsliv: loving mother nature the Norwegian way

The philosophy of friluftsliv is all about spending time alone with nature in order to return to one’s true self. And it’s not only about hiking, but the main idea is to set yourself free from the general rush and routine. There is only you, a backpack behind your shoulders, and mother nature. Work that involves physical activity in the open air also fits into the friluftsliv concept. Wood chopping, for example. Lars Mitting, the author of the Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way considers wood chopping to be something of a spiritual practice.

“In the lonely mountain farm,

My abundant catch I take.

There is a hearth, and table,

And friluftsliv for my thoughts.”

Henrik Ibsen. On the Heights

Here are some pieces of advice from native Norwegians: “Don’t take a camera, and don’t post about it on Facebook — just climb a hill or take a walk and keep the experience for yourself.” “Burn your TV, fill your pockets with chocolate and ham, and go for a long walk.”

Gezelligheid: enjoying closeness the Dutch way

Although the Netherlands is not part of Scandinavia, they also have a very nice concept of happiness. The Dutch believe that happiness is basically synonymous with unity with their loved ones. Time spent in the warm company of people who get you and support you no matter what is called Gezelligheid.

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Dutch proverbs

The word Gezel means companion, an old friend. The Dutch also often use the word gezellig which means cozy, pleasant, and friendly. Precious places and things that bring back vivid memories are gesellig too. Memorable long-awaited meetings with friends you have not seen for a long time are also gesellig. By the way, in Norway, they also have a similar concept, Koselig, which means a pleasant candlelit dinner in the company of good friends.

Kalsarikänni: a new way of relaxation from the Finns

Kalsarikännit (or simply pantsdrunk) is the Finnish way to spend time at home alone in your underwear having drinks. Kalsarit is a type of underwear, Kännit means drunk. The term has become popular thanks to Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs that came up with the whole country-themed Emoji list. So, the next time you’re invited to an event you don’t want to attend, just go with the Finnish way of relaxation and say that you’re going to Kalsarikännit tonight.

“In the Nordic palette of survival strategies, the Finn relies not on lagom, or hygge but on kalsarikänni: the primeval yet surprisingly cosmopolitan concept of ‘pantsdrunk.’ It can be adapted to every corner of the world, regardless of circumstance, milieu, or mood.

Pantsdrunk doesn’t demand over-the-top arrangements. Affordability and democracy are its hallmarks.

Pantsdrunk is the antithesis of posing, performing, or pretense: one does not post atmospheric images on Instagram while pantsdrunk.

Pantsdrunk is real.

Miska Rantanen. Pantsdrunk: Kalsarikanni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation

The Finns are not alone with their Kalsarikännit — the Dutch also have a term for this. Niksen is the ability to relax and do nothing without feeling guilty about it. Niksen can become a real lifesaver for many who struggle with their multiple tasks at work and suffer from inevitable stress.

Gluggaveður: Icelandic optimism

Gluggaveður is the Islandic term to define that amazing feeling when you sit by the window with a hot cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the weather from indoors but don’t want to go outside to appreciate it. It’s very typical for these Nordic countries because sometimes, people like to wear something snuggly and Gluggaveður (or window-weather) for a while.

If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes.

Never praise a ford till you get over.

Tend the oak if you want to live under it.

Icelandic proverbs

All you need for Gluggaveður is your cozy sweater and sweatpants, a cup of your hot beverage, a window, and the mood. They say that Gluggaveður can help your mind generate the most brilliant thoughts and ideas. So why not try it?

Which Nordic concept of happiness did you like the best? Would you try introducing any of them into your life?

Иллюстратор Natalia Tylosova for BrightSide.me