Hygge is the Danish word for the feeling of coziness and contentment and we have all been trying to add elements of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) into our busy lives.
The latest buzz word from the Danes is Lykke (pronounced loo-ka). The Danish are some of the happiest people in the world due to their lifestyle encompassed by a term called Lykke. The little book of Lykke by Meik Wiking breaks down the six essential factors that make the Danes so happy and it occurs to us that giving the gift of flowers will work nicely into this ethos.
The most fundamental building block to happiness according to Wiking is community. This doesn't mean surrounding yourself with people who contribute to your life; it's supporting the community you are living in - you family and neighbours.
In Denmark, the taxes are some of the highest in the world but 'almost nine out of ten people living in Denmark happily pay their taxes' according to a 2014 Gallup poll. The reason they are happy to pay up is they consider themselves to be buying a quality of life. They are investing in their community. Happiness doesn't come from owning a big house but from knowing that everybody you know and love will be supported in their time of need.
Eat together. Pay attention to the people you are with. Make an effort with the meal and the setting. A small vase of artificial flowers for the table, candlelight, ban mobile phones and talk to each other.
Money can't buy happiness but there is a correlation between the two. Once we have enough money to meet our needs the correlation ends. Buying to display wealth doesn't bring contentment.
Buy experiences not things. Travel, go to the theatre, dine out with a loved one, give flowers for no reason other than you care. You will be buying memories that you can't put a price on.
Physical health in Denmark is almost a non-issue when it comes to basic maintenance. They cycle everywhere, walk where they can't cycle and eat what they want to. They aren't gym rats and they aren't obsessive about body image. Feeling good and being happy is built into their lifestyle.
Move every day. Take a walk in your lunch break. Chase your kids round the park. Put your favourite music on and dance. As Anthony Hopkins says 'None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean.'
When the Danes talk about freedom they are talking about a functional work-life balance. Their work week often clocks in at 37 hours and often has freedom when it comes to start/end times and working from home.
Pick an hour in your working day that is just for you. No meetings. No emails. No interruptions. Put a do not disturb sign and use the time for the task you choose, giving you a real sense of freedom over how to use that hour.
In Denmark parents will leave their children in prams outside of shops without a second thought. Not something I would encourage but this trust stems from something we can all grow in: empathy. The Danes have empathy on their skills list that's taught in schools. The more they learn about others makes them more willing to give others the benefit of the doubt and creates a more trusting presence for others.
Read more. Try a fictional book with a main character that's a different race, gender or religion to you. Reading will broaden your world view and encourage empathy and trust.
Any Dane will tell you kindness and friendliness are not the same thing. Danes value genuine kindness like giving generously to charity. They recognise that actions speak louder than words. Wiking writes about making Random Acts of Kindness a regular part of your life.
Don't tell them to ask you. When we ask someone who is hurting 'tell me if you need anything' we're placing a burden on them. Instead of asking what they want or need just do something. Bring them a hot meal. Give them a bunch of flowers. Wash their car. Sweep their paths. Show them you care ♥