Monday, March 20, 2017

Scandinavia Is Onto Something!

Scandinavia. Almost Utopia.
Probably the smoothest sailing part of the world.
Liberal welfare, health care and educational systems, leading work life balance, work benefits, close connection to nature…
The list goes on.
But today I am going to address the concepts that people from around Scandinavia live by for a bloody good life.
And every country in Scandinavia (except Greenland; is that even a country or some Nordic island?)is amongst the 10 happiest in the world. Iceland (is that a part of it?), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark (#1!), they’re all on there, amongst Australia (yay me home’s on there!), New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and I’ve forgotten the last.
Point is, we can all take a lesson from the happiest group of countries in the world, Scandinavia!
Here are the key terms to remember:

Sisu, Finnish
Starting with a harshest one, this is a Finnish term for, like, stamina and being willing and able to push through difficulties. I guess the Finnish know that hard work pays off in the long run. A reminder that quitting a job you hate does not have to be necessary, but that we can hang in there and push through things we don’t like and we become stronger from it. Quitting a stressful job can tempt all of us, but how about pushing through it another year and then looking back to see if we’re glad to have stuck with it? I’m not your career dictator, but just an idea. Sisu can apply to not only work but looking for work, studying and dealing with difficult people.

Hygge, Danish
An untranslatable Danish concept for staying warm, cosy and totally content, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Traditionally it’s about snuggling up and staying toasty warm in the blistering Danish winters, but it can be practiced in any season or climate, even on a tropical island! As long as your heart is bubbling like an overboiling saucepan, you are in a state of hygge! Survive the cold not just by rugging up, but by rugging up in style! Physically hygge up by throwing on an oversized sweater, wooly socks, firing up the fire making a huge pot o’ tea. Add to that some quality family time, or alone time to read a heart-warming book or do some crochet. Why am I telling you to do crochet when I make excuses and am terrible with being motivated to crochet because ‘I have to do me blogging!’. But remember, hygge is anything that warms your heart in any of the four seasons!

Fika, Swedish
A very specific one, this is about taking time out from a busy day to relax over a coffee and a dainty snack, like a traditional Swedish cinnamon scroll. Okay, it can be more broad than that; you can have tea or even kombucha! Not strictly Swedish but the concept remains; stopping for a drink or a snack, often with a companion but can be by yourself; self-love points up! Fika often involves pastries and baked goods, often sweet. But for the majority of us who are watching our weight, you could have a small sandwich or fruit (thanks for the inspo Sophie!)  or nuts, paired with a low cal drink like coffee with almond milk and stevia. I understand that at work it can be very time consuming to stop for a snack. That’s fine, just getting up for a coffee, tea or a snack and taking it back to your desk can help you refresh and power on during a long stint. If your employer is happy with this and you still get the work done, you could be allowed to take 15 minutes to do nothing but kiss the sunshine with a lovely coffee and a healthy or indulgent or both snack. Or you might want to reserve a slow-paced approach like that for the weekends when you can properly relax. Your call. You could even do Fika each night before bed and after a long hard day. Great transition from duty to bed time.

Lagom, Swedish
This basically means not too much or too little. A huge amount of us are watching our weight and unknowingly use (or try to use, lol) this principle; eating healthy/low cal 80% of the time and indulging in slutty brownies the other 20%. A lot of us are also in a financial struggle, not always because we don’t have much money, but because it’s too easy to spend it all at once at go broke 4 days before paycheck, even when earning a ‘solid’ income. So, we can basically use lagoom to justify splurging, but not impulse buying and emotional shopping/eating. (I’m guilty so I shall speak for meself). The key here is to splurge on what matters most. That could be not buying cheap wine and beer for a while so you can save for real champagne (in that case, you can have champagne on a beer budget!) and indulging in luxuries, but mindfully and selecting the luxuries that truly make you happy. I struggle with this, but with practice I shall get better at it. My weakness is impulse buying of expensive junk food when I’m out and lunch didn’t fill me up. So hanger, I believe, is the root cause of me impulse buying food and breaking me intentions of saving and healthy eating. A way around this could be if I pack a more satisfying and balanced lunch and carrying some nuts to snack on. Me current snack fetish is brazil nuts sandwiched into mejdool dates. While this might sound fancy and expensive, it works out cheaper (and healthier!) than blowing $7 and 700 calories on a wicked froyo. I did that at Yogurtland s’arvo. (the other day now) Oops. Regretting all that sugar. Yes, naughty food has it’s time and place and makes life worth living, but not on impulse and too often, which I have trouble with. Anyway…

So, there you go; four Scandinavian concepts that could be why all of Scandinavia is up there in the 10 happiest countries.
How could you incorporate them in your life?
It seems self-explanatory.
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