In 2015 The New Yorker published an article called Northern Lights: Do the Scandinavians really have it all figured out? Nearly four years later – with “hygge” an official entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, almost 2.3 million Instagram posts tagged #scandinaviandesign, and a plethora of perfectly designed Scandi-inspired lifestyle magazines on offer in home stores and hipster cafés – the answer is yes.
What’s the secret to the Scandinavian mystique? Well, for many North Americans, hygge was the hook. The global appeal of the northern European lifestyle reached new levels when ‘hygge’ entered the pop culture vernacular.
“Hygge’s been called many things,” said CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Denmark, Meik Wiking, in an interview with NPR. “It’s been called the art of creating a nice atmosphere. It’s been called the pursuit of everyday happiness. But it’s basically building in elements of togetherness, of savouring simple pleasures, of relaxation, of comfort on an everyday basis.” But while hygge might have been the starting point of our ongoing fascination with Scandinavian life, it’s not the whole story.
The Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and sometimes Finland and Iceland) are experts at more than just designing inviting lounge seating, perfecting the art of a cozy night in, and calmly eschewing classic gender roles. They’re connoisseurs of a more balanced lifestyle. Thanks to universal health care, paid family leave (up to a combined four hundred and eighty days of maternity and paternity leave for every child), abundant vacation time (nearly seven weeks a year), and gender equality, Scandi citizens are free to concentrate on some of the other things in life like spending time with friends and in nature. And the good news is, by following a few small Scandinavian-inspired rituals, we can get a taste of the happy life here at home. Here are three easy ways to start.
Walk or cycle to work.
In Scandinavia exercise is a way of life. Not 6:00 am sweat sessions at your nearest F45, but regular physical activity as part of daily living. For many, that means walking or cycling to work. Almost 30% of urban-dwelling Danes cycle to and from their office and 50% of Swedes incorporate regular long walks as part of their day. Consider changing your own commute and get some exercise along the way. Simply swapping your car for the subway will get you well on your way to your 10,000 daily steps.
Turn neighbours into friends.
An essential part of the hygge life is communing with family and friends. While in Norway that might mean oysters and beer in a cabin among the birches near the fjord, here at home try engaging with neighbours in social spaces like the local coffee shop, fireside in the lounge, or in the coworking space downstairs.
Connect to nature.
Unwinding in the open air is so ingrained in the Nordic culture that they have a word for it – friluftsliv. Find your own version by starting your day on the balcony, breathing in the crisp winter air, or reading a good book under the trees outside your front door. Adopt the Swedish saying, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” and you’ll find yourself feeling like a Scandinavian all year round.
Register today for Tretti and discover a Scandinavian-inspired lifestyle in the heart of Wilson Heights.