The United Nations recently put out its World Happiness Report, ranking the world’s happiest countries based on six categories to determine which country would stand at number one, including income, freedom, trust, social support, generosity, and healthy life expectancy. Finland cinched the top spot, though it wasn’t alone as other Nordic countries seemed to be prominent among the top ten countries as well; Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden were also among the top 10 listed. Non-Nordic countries that topped the list included the Netherlands, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, and New Zealand.
According to Josefin Roth, brand manager at LivNordic–a Scandinavian lifestyle hospitality brand–Nordic people live off of four basic principles that involve living a balanced and healthy lifestyle, which likely attribute to the happiness of Nordic people. Below, Roth shares his thoughts on each principle.
The first principle involves a connectivity to nature: “Despite colder temperatures for most of the year, we Scandinavians possess a deep, abiding love for nature,” says Roth. “We show our appreciation for nature all year long by engaging in many activities such as hiking, cycling, sailing, and swimming in the summer, and cross-country skiing and ice-skating in the winter. The change of the seasons forces us to stay in tune with nature–and due to the contrasts in light, dark, hot, and cold–appreciate it even more than other regions.”
The second is is having an authentic community: “A sense of community as well as an understanding of the common good, is central to Nordic culture,” explains Roth. “We believe in cultivating authentic relationships based on equality and trust–two factors which studies show to be key factors of happiness. We also believe in quality over quantity, meaning that work shouldn’t interfere with family time. Many offices and businesses in Sweden close before 5 pm and incorporate a Swedish tradition called ‘Fikapaus,’ which is centered on taking a break throughout the day. The concept of Hygge–a feeling of cosy contentment and well-being–is also an important feature of our cultural identity. [It] is achieved by enjoying and appreciating the simple pleasures of life.”
The third principle is Nordic wellbeing: “We Scandinavians enjoy being sociable, but are also self-aware and value our solitude,” comments Roth. “We often take time to connect to our inner stillness, which can be anything from taking a walk in the forest to appreciating the small things in life, such as enjoying a cup of coffee or simply taking a few deep breaths in the middle of the day. We believe that quality of life is determined by a person and is not something that can be given or bought. It is simply a way of ‘being’ rather than ‘having,’ and anyone can achieve it with the right mindset.”
The final principle that Nordics live by is creative fuel: “In Scandinavia, we have strong passion for design, music, art, and innovation, and believe that it all comes from an inner, creative spark which every person possesses,” says Roth. “Nurturing this inner spark is something we take very seriously as we believe it is what makes us thrive; giving us beauty and meaning in life, and the ability to express ourselves. For us, our creativity evolves out of how we intuitively observe the world around us, [use] all our senses, [and connect] to our environment and each other.”
With a focus on connectivity and wellbeing, it’s no wonder Nordic countries are feeling less stressed and more happy compared to other countries around the world. To read the full report click here.