The Danes are on to something!

Happy Place

Did you know that this year Denmark is deemed to be the second happiest place to live in the world? Finland is supposed to be the happiest country, with Denmark coming a close second.

I wonder why that is? What are they doing to promote a sense of well-being and contentment? More importantly, what are they doing better than us in the UK?

Happiness Index

Well, the World Population Review looks at the following criteria when trying to ascertain the levels of happiness of each country:

• Gross domestic product per capita
• Social support
• Healthy life expectancy
• Freedom to make one’s own life choices
• Generosity of the general population
• Perceptions of internal/external corruption levels

The World Population Review states that “by relating all of the countries around the world individually to a made-up country called Dystopia, the researchers were able to configure a baseline to compare all other countries.”
As you can see, the criteria they’ve used – such as life expectancy, social support and generosity – are all weighty matters, and highly significant in our lives, so Finland and Denmark must be amazing places to live – despite their long, hard winters.

Hygge

I think it’s their long, hard winters that have really got me thinking… Despite all that snow, ice and darkness, Denmark is still a really happy place. I wonder if it’s got anything to do with their cosy, comforting lifestyle choices?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the lifestyle movement, Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-gah’, which rhymes with ‘cougar’). Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, explains in his book ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ that Hygge in Denmark is “a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA”. In fact, Hygge – i.e. all things warm and homely – has been an important part of Danish culture ever since the early 1800s. According to ‘Country Living’ magazine, this is when the word first appeared in writing, derived from a Norwegian word for ‘well-being’. But the Hygge lifestyle trend really hit the UK in 2016.

So what does Hygge comprise? Well, it’s more of an atmosphere than a list of things, but it makes me think of: comfy clothes, woolly socks, warm drinks, scented candles, baggy jumpers, log fires, pine walls and ceilings, blankets, throws and, of course, sheepskin… Lots of sheepskin!
Hygge is also about living in the moment – enjoying every sip of that hot chocolate, every crackle of that open fire, and every toe-tickling snuggle of that sheepskin rug.
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