Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the fast pace of modern life, craving simplicity, balance, and genuine happiness?
I felt the same way until I stumbled upon the treasure trove of wisdom that is Scandinavian living.
From Denmark to Norway, these Nordic nations have cracked the code to a balanced, fulfilling life, and it’s high time we took a leaf out of their book.
So get ready for a treat — we’re about to explore 7 Scandinavian secrets that are like a warm hug for your soul, teaching you how to slow down, enjoy the moment, and, most importantly, live a happier life.
1) Hygge – The cozy factor
You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re curled up on the sofa, wrapped in a soft blanket, sipping hot cocoa while the rain gently taps on the window? That’s Hygge in a nutshell.
This Danish concept doesn’t have a direct translation in English, but it’s all about capturing those small, blissful moments of comfort, coziness, and contentment.
It’s the simple, yet profound joy that comes from being truly present in a comforting environment.
For me, Hygge was a game-changer. I used to worry about making my home look like it was straight out of a magazine, but Hygge taught me to focus on what really matters — creating a warm, welcoming space where I can unwind and connect with loved ones.
So how can you bring a little Hygge into your life? Try lighting some candles, playing soft music, or indulging in a homemade meal.
Most importantly, share these moments with people who make your heart feel full.
2) Lagom – Balance is key
Ever feel like you’re either running on empty or overflowing with too much of… well, everything? That’s where the Swedish concept of Lagom comes in.
Pronounced ‘law-gum,’ it translates to “just the right amount,” and is all about embracing a balanced, sustainable lifestyle.
It’s not about deprivation but finding that sweet spot right in the middle.
Imagine you love coffee. Lagom would advise you not to gulp down five cups a day, but also not to avoid it completely. Maybe for you, two cups are ‘just right,’ providing that warm, caffeinated embrace without the jitters.
Personally, this idea really helped me balance my social life. Instead of overcommitting and then stressing out about it, I planned for one or two get-togethers a week and kept the rest for family and personal time. It taught me that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes.
Embracing Lagom is like getting the recipe of your life just right — enough spice to keep things interesting, but not so much that it overwhelms the dish.
It’s the secret ingredient for a life that’s not just lived, but thoroughly enjoyed.
3) Friluftsliv – Outdoor living
I used to feel caged by the four walls of my office, and sometimes even my home. And when I discovered the concept of Friluftsliv, it finally clicked why.
This word translates to “free air life,” and is a Norwegian and Swedish tradition that prioritizes spending time in the great outdoors.
I’m embarrassed to say that at one point, my idea of nature was putting a plant in my office, or a forest screensaver on my laptop.
But during the Covid-19 lockdowns, like many others I found myself going out for short walks, hikes, or even just relaxing in the park, as socializing wasn’t allowed.
And I was surprised by how I felt my stress melt away, replaced by a serene sense of well-being.
The beauty of this concept is that it doesn’t require any expensive gear or memberships. Integrating Friluftsliv into your life could be as simple as having your morning coffee on the porch, taking a lunchtime stroll, or swapping your gym session for a jog in the park.
Or, just step outside and immerse yourself in nature. Feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and the earth under your feet.
4) Fika – Coffee and friends
You might feel like you take breaks already — and you probably already drink lots of coffee. (If not, how do you survive??)
But in Sweden, they take it to a whole other level. They have this beautiful tradition called Fika. It’s more than just a coffee break — it’s a moment to slow down and appreciate the good stuff in life.
We’re talking about that blissful sip of coffee or tea, a bite of a freshly baked pastry, and a heartfelt chat with someone you care about.
When I first heard about this, I was intrigued — so I tried approaching my own coffee breaks differently.
Rather than grabbing a cup to go and slugging it down as I hurried back to the office, I scheduled a 15-minute break to enjoy it at the café. And I invited a colleague to join me, or called a friend I haven’t caught up with in a while.
The difference is phenomenal — next time you want coffee, try it yourself and you’ll see what I mean. And don’t forget the treats — a little sweetness can go a long way in lifting your spirits.
5) Sisu – Inner strength
Whenever you’re faced with a challenge, whether it’s a problem at work or a difficult conversation, Sisu is your secret weapon.
This Finnish concept is all about a blend of determination, resilience, and courage. It’s the inner strength that propels you forward, especially when the going gets tough.
Sisu might sound a lot like regular resilience, but it’s actually deeper. It’s that inner fire that not only helps you survive challenges but also transforms them into opportunities for growth.
When I was going through a rough patch a while back, I leaned into Sisu. Instead of allowing my circumstances to weigh me down, I used that gritty determination to drive me forward. I tackled problems head-on and came out on the other side feeling not just relieved, but stronger.
Sisu can be your guiding light through the murkiest waters. And the best part? It’s already within you, waiting to be unleashed.
6) Work-life balance
We all like to talk about a work-life balance, but few of us know how to live by it like they do in Scandinavia. There, work-life balance isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity.
People clock out on time, spend quality evenings with their families, and maintain a healthy divide between professional and personal responsibilities. Work is considered just one part of a fuller, richer life.
It can be difficult to work this into your life if you’re used to being buried under endless emails and looming deadlines.
So take it one step at a time. Designate ‘work hours’ and ‘personal hours,’ and stick to them. Turn off work emails and notifications after a certain time in the evening.
Schedule time for hobbies and activities that nourish your soul — whether that’s painting, hiking, or simply binge-watching your favorite show.
For me, the hardest part was following through on these plans. So what I did was try to think of it like a work commitment — like a conference call I had to attend.
It felt a little unnatural to switch off like that at first, but I quickly got used to it — and I hope you will too.
7) Simplicity and minimalism
We live in a world where more often feels like better. More clothes, more gadgets, more social media followers. But you’ve surely also heard the saying “less is more”. That’s the Scandinavian way — embracing simplicity and minimalism.
You’ll notice this right away if you look in a typical Scandinavian home. The decor is simple, with clean lines and neutral colors. There’s a place for everything, and everything is in its place.
There are no rooms cluttered with stuff. Instead, they focus on the essentials, keeping only what truly adds value to their lives.
I used to longingly stare at magazine pictures of those homes, wishing mine looked like that. And then one day I realized, “What’s stopping me?”
I went on a declutter rampage, donating clothes I hadn’t worn in years, recycling old papers and gadgets, and reorganizing my living spaces. Though she’s not Scandinavian, following Marie Kondo’s tips really helped me in this process.
And over time I started applying this even further — deleting unused apps, and saying no to commitments that don’t bring me joy. Clutter isn’t always physical, but it can be emotional too.
Now imagine your life without it. Fewer belongings to worry about, fewer activities that drain your energy, and more space for things that truly matter.
Making your life happier, one Scandinavian secret at a time
You’ve just learned about 7 Scandinavian secrets to living a happy life.
With these in mind, it’s easy to see why countries like Norway and Sweden are considered some of the happiest on the planet.
Embracing even just one of these concepts is sure to bring a profound increase in happiness to your life — but I’m willing to bet you won’t be able to stop there.
So pick one to start with, and then gradually add in the rest — and here’s to your newfound extra happiness!