Danish Lifestyle and the Secret of Happiness - The Year of Living Danishly

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Over the last decade, Denmark is consistent in ranking as one of the happiest countries in the world. But what is it in the Danish lifestyle that’s the reason for their contentment? It rests on many factors but narrows down to social intimacy and strong social support in whatever they love to do.

In the Danish society, people love spending time with family and in leisure activities. It’s time to explore the secrets of Danish lifestyle with the book – The Year of Living Danishly. Written by Helen Russell, the book is all about Denmark and its culture. Helen Russell is a British journalist with work featured in publications like The Wall Street Journal, The Times, and The Guardian among others.

Denmark ranks high in the UN World Happiness Report and also in the happiness index of the EU commission. And the book gives you an insight into the Scandinavian way of life in this small country of 5.5 million people.

Listen to the summary at Blinkist or listen to the book at Audible.

The hygge

Scandinavian way of life is defined by hygge.
Scandinavian way of life is defined by hygge.

Although it’s difficult to define hygge in a sentence, it refers to something like a comfortable home and a cozy lifestyle. Danes love to stay at home in winters and have a nice dinner with friends or have a glass of wine alone. And both the situations fall under hygge – comfort, coziness, relaxation – whatever you call it.

And to ensure their hygge, they keep their home comfortable. They design their home for comfort and create cozy corners with lamps and candles for warmth. They use a lot of candles, lights and even chandeliers for a warm ambiance in those freezing nights.

And then, there are blankets and cushions. But why do they do so? A study by University College, London found that looking at things which you find beautiful makes you happy. Thus, this Danish lifestyle of having a tidy home with stylish interiors is a key to their happiness.

Good work-life balance

One of the main Danish values is spending time on what you love the most.
One of the main Danish values is spending time on what you love the most.

Apart from cozy homes, another interesting thing among the Denmark lifestyle facts is they don’t overwork. Danish have some shortest working hours in Europe, and they enjoy something which they call arbejdsglaede, meaning job satisfaction. The average work in Danish lifestyle is only about 34 hours per week.

But that’s not the only reason for being happy with their job. The young ones can choose the profession they want to, and no one judges you on the basis of what you earn. 

For Danes, work is something you love. Moreover, the Denmark education system made the learning free up to secondary level, and they have a lot of options for vocational training also. And that’s not all; employees also get training to learn new skills.

Read more: Achieve more only with the essentials

Then, Danes have hobbies, and some have more than one. Hobbies and leisure activities increase the quality of life and help in keeping them happy. 

There are many government-supported institutions and hobby clubs to let them enjoy their activities along with others. There also is an activity which most people in Denmark love – cycling – and they have more than 7,500 miles of bike path.

Denmark - culture and lifestyle

The culture and traditions of Denmark are defined by togetherness.
The culture and traditions of Denmark are defined by togetherness.

Another prominent feature of the culture of Denmark is that the parents get 52 weeks off for every child. The mother and father both can share this time among themselves and thus, help in the upbringing of their children.

They get to enjoy some quality family time, and it also is beneficial to the child.

Also, for the citizens of Denmark, traditions create a sense of stability and Danish value their culture a lot. The traditions don’t change over the years, and they find it comforting. 

One such traditional ceremony is the confirmation of children’s religious faith. It takes place when the child is around 14 years old.
A party, lots of presents and a lavish meal follows the event. Such rituals allow them to enjoy more, and the genes also play a part.

Read more: Find your passion and purpose in life

One of the reasons for the happiness in the Danish lifestyle is the togetherness of genes. According to Niels Tommerup, the more similar the genes among a population, the closer is the bonding.

The inhabitants of Denmark haven’t moved a lot, and thus, they feel content being around each other. Although you can’t assimilate the cultures and traditions of Denmark fully, there are things which you can undertake to be happier.

What you can do today to live happier:

  • Spend more time at home with family and friends.
  • Take out time for leisure activities like cycling and games.
  • Inculcate a hobby like language-learning. It keeps your mental health young and the self-confidence high. Join a hobby club if possible.

Denmark is giving out some real happiness goals to other people. 

Take some time out and see what else you can take and employ in your life and be closer to the Danish lifestyle. 

Abhijeet Kumar a freelance content writer for aSabbatical.com
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.