The Danish people’s secret of happiness

Hygge (Huga)

Hygge, one of the secrets of happiness in Denmark, which has managed to enter the list of the 5 happiest countries in the world for the last 40 years, is a concept that has been the subject of the most books and news in recent years.

So what is this Hygge?

In fact, this concept does not have much equivalent in languages ​​other than Danish. I think this concept, which means “peace, calm, relax” in Norwegian, is also connected with the word “hug”, which means to hug in English. In Danish culture, it is defined as a sincere, warm, comfortable feeling of home. It will be thought that this concept plays such a big role in Danish culture and the happiness of the Danish people that ‘hygge’ courses have been started to be given at universities in the United States and England.

Hygge is based on enjoying the simple things. Hygge is a concept based on the philosophy of creating a life-ordinary, moment-oriented living environment that makes life ordinary. For example, enjoying a simple activity at home; like a coffee or a cake. For example, reading a book under a blanket in a warm room. Or chatting with the family at the dinner table. You will understand that it is made of completely ordinary, ordinary things. “Well, we’re already doing that.” you actually said that didn’t you?

But hygge is not limited to a beautiful, pleasant and warm environment. A disinterested intimacy and uncritical communication pattern with family, friends and colleagues is a vital nuance of hygge.

Now imagine a family gathering. It is a language pattern where no one is sarcastic, without judgment, without criticism, without blame. Everyone helped set the table, everyone added beauty to the table, everyone added something of their own to the table… No one is in the trouble of proving that he is superior to another. Nobody cares about “I’m a better cook”. Nobody is trying to attract all the attention like a lightning rod. Totally sincere, completely warm, completely natural…
Everyone enjoys being in the environment, they are cheerful and interested. No one has a sullen face. There is no talk about politics, problems, or relations of interest… Everyone is trying to enjoy the food, conversation and being together.

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Does it seem a bit utopian when we think about our culture? How can one escape from all this? How can he focus on the present moment? How can such a picture be created when life and human nature are so complex and varied?

If we look the other way, it is possible to see that it is not actually utopian. Because the individuals of the Danish people have their own selves, troubles, complexes and weaknesses, just like every other human being. But the Danish people have been doing this for years. Because ‘Hygge’ has an unwritten rule. Leaving our ego out when we walk through the door. This is the trick that makes Hygge so special. If everyone hangs their masks outside and focuses only on the yeast of goodness and beauty in our core; we develop a lantern that protects ourselves from our ego. This is exactly what the Danish people have managed to do.

There are hundreds of studies showing the vital importance of relationships with relatives, spouses, friends, etc. for a happy, peaceful, quality and long life. Perhaps the most important of these is the research carried out at Harvard University, which started in 1938 and lasted for 75 years. In this study, scientists examined two groups. The first group included 268 sophomore boys at Harvard University, and the second group included 456 boys aged 12-16, living in a poor neighborhood in Boston. Every two years, the researchers surveyed the participants about their lives; They asked questions about their job satisfaction, marriage, and social life. Every five years, they also undergo health screenings such as blood tests, x-rays, urine tests and echo cardiograms.

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At the beginning of the research, “Generation Y Youth” were also asked what their most important goals in life are. Among the answers, being rich and being famous had the highest percentage. (80% said they wanted to be rich, 50% said they wanted to be famous! Actually, I think they both come to the same thing.)

The fourth term coordinator of the research, Robert Waldinger, Doctor of Psychiatry, explains in his TED talk in November 2015, 3 lessons about living a good life after 75 years of research:

“Build strong bonds with your relatives.”

“In both groups, it was determined that those who could establish close relationships and strong bonds with their spouses, family, friends and the community they live in were happier and lived longer.

On the contrary, it was realized that loneliness kills! It was observed that those who were left alone despite their unwillingness were less happy and had worse physical and mental health. There is much more research showing that loneliness increases the risk of illness and death. “

“Experience satisfying relationships.”

“In their study of predicting who will live the longest among those aged 50, researchers found that the most important factor in determining lifespan is not cholesterol levels, but how satisfied they are in their relationships! The healthiest people at age 50 are those with the most satisfying relationships at age 50.

Just being in a relationship with someone or how many friends you have is not enough for a good life. More importantly, how are your relationships? The study found that those who remained single were happier than married couples who constantly quarreled. A warm and friendly social environment is very important for maintaining health. “

“Have a solid relationship with a supportive spouse.”
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“Relationships also affect your brain health. People who had solid marriages or long-term relationships up to age 50 had better memories than those who didn’t.”

“There is only time to love”

Dr. Waldinger ended his speech with a beautiful quote from Mark Twain:



Sometimes we do not care about our relatives, we hurt our relatives, we do not care about our relationships, sometimes because of economic problems, sometimes for success, sometimes for other reasons. But this 75-year study also shows that when we look back at the end of our life to see if I have lived a good life, the most important thing will be relationships based on mutual love.

Of course, we cannot expect everyone to behave like an angel at all times. But for just a few hours, it’s possible for everyone to bring out their good side and take a positive and constructive attitude. This is the essence of hygge. As hard as it is, it seems worth living. Doing this constantly can perhaps have a magical effect. Who knows.



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