Eat Sweets, Don’t Stay Behind At Work And Embrace The Freezing Temperatures: How To Be Happy The Nordic Way
AFTER a long day at work, it’s easy to blame the cold weather and dingy afternoon sky for your lack of gym motivation and nagging bad mood.
And this year’s World Happiness Report, which ranks Britain as only the 19th happiest country in the world, seems to suggest that the lack of Vitamin D is getting to us a bit.
Getty – Contributor The cold weather is no excuse not to be happy, as countries like Iceland show
It may come as a surprise, then, that the happiest country in the world is Finland: one of the few places colder and darker than the UK, with zero sunlight hours in the winter and temperatures capable of dipping to the minus 20s and below.
And the other countries which round out the top four, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, aren’t exactly tropical themselves.
Besides the limited sunlight hours and sub-zero temperatures, the happiest countries all have something else in common: they’re Nordic.
So we spoke to Bronte Aurell, author of North: How to Live Scandinavian, and Joanna Nylund, author of SISU – The Finnish Art of Courage, to find out what our Viking friends are doing right and how we can learn how to live a bit more like them.
Supplied Bronte Aurell, author of North: How to Live Scandinavian, knows exactly what it means to live a more Nordic life
Live like a piece of IKEA furniture
Bronte reckons that the key to happy Nordic living can be summed up in one word: lagom.
“Lagom is a very important word in Scandinavia,” Bronte explains. “It means not too much and not too little – just right.”
If you need an example of what it means to be lagom, look no further than Scandinavia’s most iconic export.
Getty – Contributor Lagom can be applied to anything, but nowhere is it more prominent than in IKEA
“IKEA is an example of lagom,” Bronte says. “Everything in IKEA, although it’s quite price-conscious, has a function, and there are no gilded edges. Likewise, nothing we do in our society is ostentatious: there are no extremes.
“Lagom can be applied to everything: from your car to your job to how many cinnamon buns you eat at one time. It’s all about balance.”
Amazon North: How to Live Scandinavian is all about embracing principles like hygge and lagom
There’s no place less Nordic than your comfort zone, and part of embracing a happier way of life has to involve leaving it every now and then.
Joanna says: “We need challenges in order to flourish. Start by doing everyday things differently – take a different route to work or read a new author. Take small steps – if you’re socially insecure don’t start by asking someone on a date, but start by saying hello instead.”
A great way to shake up your daily routine is by escaping to the country, something those happy Finns love to do every summer.
Joanna adds: “The more basic accommodation, the better. Foster some resilience by doing without your mod cons for a weekend of camping.”
Naomi Wilkinson Finnish author Joanna Nylund understands exactly why her country was ranked the happiest
Know your hygge from your sisu
Lagom isn’t the only Nordic buzzword to look out for.
You may have already heard of sisu and hygge, both trendy words which also describe the best bits of the Nordic way of life.
“Hygge is a really important word,” Bronte explains. “It’s about consciously enjoying the moment you’re in, while you’re in it.”
Sisu, the subject of Joanna’s book, is all about inner courage and resilience
Joanna adds: “Sisu is something we live by and, to me, it means finding your inner courage or resilience.
“When difficulty comes along, don’t let it get you down but instead think of a way through it.”
Keeping these key concepts in mind can help you Nord up your life without making any huge, unsustainable changes.
Your Nordic glossary
Hygge (hoo-ger): A Danish word which means acknowledging a feeling of comfort, warmth or togetherness. You can feel hygge when you slow down and focus on the present while doing something you enjoy.
Lagom (la-gom): A Swedish word which means not too little, not too much, just right. Nordic living is all about this balance.
Sisu (see-su): A Finnish concept which means courage, grit and determination to succeed, even when you’re up against the odds. Be gutsy, and draw on your sisu when times are tough.
Meet the coldest football club in the world
Make work work for you
Work-life balance is a key principle of Nordic living, and it’s something we often struggle with over here in the UK.
Bronte says: “A lot of it comes down to the way we run our countries, but in this part of the world everyone leaves work on time, when your day is finished.
“No Scandinavian stays behind.
“Working 12 hours a day may give your employer something, but it doesn’t give you anything. It’s important to have that balance and go home on time to be with the people you love.”
Getty – Contributor We may not have quite the same scenery as stunning Iceland, but we can still live a bit more Nordic in our own way
Get your sauna on
Where better to enjoy the cold winter weather than inside a sauna?
They’re a Finnish favourite, and if the world’s happiest people swear by them, they can’t be that bad.
Joanna says: “People outside of Finland think it’s something racy but actually it’s more about community.
“You go to a sauna with your friends and family, let the warmth thaw your bones and have a chat. Follow it up with a cold dip and a cold beer.”
Corbis – Getty Some Finns are unfazed by cold weather and can warm up in a sauna
Change the way you eat
Nothing is less Nordic than an extreme diet, so don’t think you have to cut out your favourite foods to live a more Skandi lifestyle.
Just embrace that key principle of lagom, or balance, and you’ll be there in no time.
“Scandinavians eat more sweets than anyone else,” Bronte says. “But we eat a lot of really healthy crisp bread as well.
“If you have a stuffed-crust pizza for lunch, then it doesn’t hurt to have salad for dinner. That may just sound like common sense, but it’s also lagom.”
Family is also important, and nowhere are bonds stronger than at the dinner table while scoffing a shared meal.
Time spent eating with your family can also be hygge, so make sure you slow down enough to enjoy the moment.
Getty – Contributor Family time is important if you want to really be more lagom
Work it all out
Exercise is something the Nordic people have got nailed down, despite the often-hostile outdoors environment.
Joanna says: “Finns regard the outdoors as an extension of their living room.
“We are very blessed with having a lot of space and a small population, but there are so many places for Brits to enjoy, even if it’s just a local park.”
“We’re not necessarily all sporty,” Bronte adds. “But we are outside a lot.
“The Danes cycle everywhere. A Norwegian would not dream of not going for a long hike on a Sunday.
“Even in the winter when it’s minus 20, we are out and about. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Getty – Contributor You can exercise no matter how bad the weather, so long as you reward yourself for it afterwards
Re-think your home
Look at how you can be more Nordic in your own home: both by changing how you interact with people and making subtle tweaks to the space itself.
One big thing is splitting the load between yourself and your partner when it comes to doing the chores – a must in any equal Nordic society.
Joanna says: “Don’t keep tabs on what your partner is or isn’t doing as that creates a toxic atmosphere. Instead, aim to be the first to volunteer for each job.”
Meanwhile, you can try some positive home decor by introducing some plants to your living room.
“Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, so they help us to breathe,” Joanna explains.
“Research shows that working near plants helps concentration, memory and productivity.”
Getty – Contributor Finland was named the happiest country in this year’s World Happiness Rankings
Has Nessie Washed Up In America? Loch Ness Monster-type Beast Found On Beach
SHOCKING pictures of a Loch Ness Monster-type beast found on a US beach have sparked talk Nessie could have moved stateside.
The mystery creature was reportedly found on Wolf Island in the state of Georgia by a father and son who were out on a boat trip.
This mystery ‘creature’ was spotted on a beach on Wolf Island, Georgia, USA
Dad Jeff Warren spotted what he said he thought was a dead seal lying in the surf, First Coast News reports.
But upon closer inspection, Jeff said it became clear he had no idea what the animal was.
Images show the supposed carcass – which Warren said was being eaten by birds when he arrived – lying in the sand.
It appears to have a long tail and two fins, as well as a long neck and a tiny head – features usually associated with Nessie in popular culture.
The ‘animal’ was spotted lying in the surf by a dad and son on a boat trip
Experts have so far been unable to positively identify the animal from the photos and video footage.
Director Dan Ash of the US Fish and Wildlife Service told Action News Jax that some sea animals have a way of decomposing where they can resemble a prehistoric creature.
He said a 30ft basking shark can end up looking like it had a long neck and tiny head.
Alternatively, the “creature” could also be a simple hoax.
Getty The famous ‘surgeon’s photograph’ hoax of Nessie
When Was The Mh17 Plane Crash, How Many People Died And Has Malaysia Airlines Recovered?
FLIGHT MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over Ukraine – killing hundreds who fell from the sky as the plane disintegrated in the sky.
A Dutch-led investigation concluded that the plane was shot down by a Buk missile system that had been transported from Russia that day.
Reuters There were 283 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew members on board MH17 which crashed in October 2015
When was the MH17 plane crash and what happened?
A 15-month investigation by the Dutch Safety Board into the Boeing 777-200ER revealed the aircraft had crashed after being hit by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine.
Dutch air investigators concluded that the plane left Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport at 12.31 local time on July 17 and was due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10am.
The board also confirmed the plane lost contact with air traffic control at 13.20 GMT, when it was about 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.
How many people died?
Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, with the loss of 298 lives.
Among the passengers were 38 Australians, 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch, and ten Britons.
Who was to blame?
A joint Investigation Team (JIT) made up of police officers from Australia, Holland, Belgium, Malaysia and the Ukraine presented the first findings of the two-year Dutch-led probe.
The group concluded the missile did come from Russia and was fired from territory held by Moscow-backed rebels.
They also said they had identified 100 people who were “linked to the crash or the transport of the Buk” but did not name individual suspects.
But Russia blamed a Ukrainian fighter pilot blamed for shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
In March 2018 he was found dead at his home as police launch a murder investigation into his death.
Captain Vladislav Voloshin, 29, had maintained he was the victim of a smear campaign by Russia – which was desperate to deflect blame away from Vladimir Putin.
Last year it was claimed key MH17 witnesses were slowly being “liquidated” by Russia in a bid to ensure silence over the doomed flight.
Reuters A Malaysian air crash investigator inspects the crash site in Ukraine
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