Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country
Did you know that the happiest place on earth is not Disney, but Denmark? That is what the author of this book, Helen Russell, has discovered in her research. And what is the secret of the happiness of the Danes?
To find the answer, Helen decided to live for one year in Denmark. And the book relaxedly tells what the author discovered! Learn a little more about the Danes’ achievements, and learn how to apply the strengths of this strange yet very happy culture in your life!
“The Year of Living Danishly PDF Summary”
Transform Your Home Into A Cosy Place
The Danes understand that happiness and a pleasant living space go together. Although Denmark has high taxes and therefore people do not have a lot of money left, they still invest a fair amount of money on quality furniture and home accessories, which tells you a lot about how important this is to them.
From lamps to sofas and bookcases, patriotic Danes prefer Danish designers such as Arne Jacobsen and Poul Henningsen. Aesthetics is very important, and the key is natural tones and simplicity. Still, it’s not hard minimalism.
It is about creating a comfortable, warm and cozy space with lots of natural light. Natural light is crucial during the dark and cold winter months when the Danes spend a lot of time indoors.
They like to keep their homes in good condition, tidy and very comfortable with floor heating, excellent insulation, and plenty of candles in the winter. The central focus of a Danish house is usually the dining table because sharing meals and entertaining the guests is an important cultural value.
You need to check out your home by decorating it with a fully Danish style. It is essential to adopt the core values such as simplicity, cleanliness, and comfort, together with an elegant design.
Try doing the following:
- Remove unnecessary items from your home.
- Keep the spaces clean and tidy.
- Have hardwood floors in your rooms.
- Invest in quality, well-designed furniture, and fittings (a Jacobsen chair or a Henningsen lamp for example). If your budget is not too high, try buying Danish-style used items.
- Have a good dining table.
- Look for simplicity of design, clean lines, and neutral colors.
- Find out how you can improve your heating and insulation.
- Overall, focus on creating a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.
A Danish home balances comfort with simplicity and style. Seek to create an orderly space, without unnecessary items, and attractive. Only then prepare to open your doors to your family and friends for long candlelit dinners. Enjoy your home and make sure that your guests also enjoy, and so you will live the true Danish style.
Look For Balance Between Work And Family Time
In many countries, particularly the United States, it is normal to work from nine to five every day. Overtime is common, with employees often taking work home. And this can cause stress, fatigue, and exhaustion.
It is also rare for Danes to work from nine to five. In their case though, it is not because they are doing overtime, but because it is normal to go home earlier (in the eyes of the rest of the world) to spend time with family.
The Danes have one of the shortest working weeks in Europe – about 30 hours – and usually finish between 15 and 16 hours every day. In Denmark, there is no competition over who stays later in the office – working late is seen as a bad feature.
So how can you achieve this in your life? There are routes you can take to achieve a great work-life balance. It may not happen overnight and may involve some sacrifices, but the options do exist.
First, find a job in a progressive company that values flexible hours and encourages your employees to leave the office on time. More and more companies around the world recognize the benefits of work-life balance for their employees’ productivity. Do your research and find the employees around you who follow these practices.
Or if financially feasible, seek to cut your working hours. For example, try moving to a week with three or four days of work instead of five.
That will leave you with less money to buy “things,” but with more time to enjoy your life. Or you could ask for permission to work from home on a weekday, reducing the time you spend with transportation to work.
The Year of Living Danishly
To live as a Dane, you need to commit to having a life outside of work. It means leaving the office on time and creating a flexible work schedule that works for your family life. The Danes know they are more than their jobs – and you need to know that too.
Have Fun, Hobbies, And Enjoy Your Free Time
We have found that the Danes value having pleasant homes and the balance between work and personal life. The two things are related. If you stay at home any longer, then you will want a comfortable home.
But there is a third aspect of daily life in Denmark: the fun. Leisure activities like gym classes and hobbies are very important in Danish culture. That is because, as Danes have shorter working hours, they have more time for these activities.
So most people are members of at least two different leisure clubs, ranging from volleyball to corals or handicrafts. And of course, this leads to the fact that they have larger social circles, a greater sense of community, and a more fulfilling life overall.
How can you introduce fun activities into your life? Especially when you may not have as much free time (or energy) as a typical Danish? Well, you can start by discovering just one weekly activity that you like, and that has a social element.
Group physical activities like yoga, basketball or running clubs are great since they have health benefits as well, but your hobby does not have to be fitness.
Be it knitting, drawing or a gastronomy class, spend your time having fun and enjoying the moment, this can bring greater meaning and richness to your life.
So find a hobby, ideally one that happens outside your home and that you can enjoy with other people. By doing this, you will meet new people, connect with your local community, and enrich your life by rediscovering interests, talents, and passions that are important to you.
Adopt The “Hygge” Concept In Your Life
There is a concept, value and central practice in the culture and happiness of the Danes. It is known as “hygge.” Although there is no perfect translation of this word, it vaguely describes “enjoying small pleasures of life,” especially in the winter.
That may include spending time at home with your family in a warm, comfortable and candle-lit environment, or sharing a meal with your friends.
It also describes the safe and happy feeling you have in doing these things. If hygge has an essence, then that essence represents “being comfortable in your home with your family and friends.”
Hygge is very important to the Danes because it not only allows them to deal with the long, freezing and dark winters but also helps them to take advantage of them and accept them.
And of course, this concept was born of the traditional Danish society, when people needed to trust each other – sharing food, shelter, and fire to survive. In Denmark, winter would be tough were it not for the fact that the Danes had hygge.
So, adopting the art of hygge practice is a great way to get over the winter and even enjoy it. It means making the most of this season and enjoying the opportunities it brings to get close to your loved ones. But how can you create that feeling for you?
It’s not very difficult. Bring the hygge to your life by treating your environments with large cushions, soft blankets, and scented candles. It can also be cooking a great meal, inviting your friends to sit at the table and share many hours of food, wine, stories, and laughter.
But you do not have to live in a region of the world with harsh winters to enjoy the benefits of hygge. Hygge means to enjoy the simple gifts of life with others. He represents spending quality time with the people he loves, receiving them in his home.
Although hygge was born from a culture with an icy climate, its core values can be adopted by anyone, whether in Florida or Rio de Janeiro. These values are the essence of hygge – cold weather is optional.
The key is in hospitality, in spending quality time with people, and in warming up with the warmth of friends and family. And of course, candles are essential. Lots and lots of candles.
Celebrate Special Events Of Each Month Of The Year
The Danes know how to stuff the annual calendar with traditional celebrations and events. They love any excuse to gather, share food and drink, and raise the national flag.
Whether it’s Fastelavn, Dancing Cow Day, or Christmas – which is a gigantic event in Denmark – each celebration has its own set of traditions, fantasies, and practices (and usually a type of cake and special songs).
Knowing exactly what they will celebrate together, year after year gives the Danes a sense of security. It also strengthens family ties and a sense of belonging. And the most important thing is that it’s fun, and the Danes love an opportunity for fun. And as your own culture also has its annual celebrations, so can you.
Try: grab a calendar and mark all important events of the year, including birthdays. If you do not have a special event each month, Google for something different. They may be local traditions, forgotten festivals, and special calendar days that need to be recognized.
Your goal is to commit to celebrating at least one occasion per month (and of course, you’ll engage your family and friends as well).
You do not have to spend a lot of money. You could, for example, add a green dye to beer during St. Patrick’s Day, or paint eggs for the kids at Easter, or give a big Halloween party.
The important thing is to mark each season change in some way – the beginning of each season, its climax, and its end. Enjoy the transition from spring to summer, from summer to autumn, from fall to winter, and back to spring. Enjoy the unique features of each month and the individual celebrations they bring.
Every culture has its calendar of traditions and events. By adopting this calendar, your year will be much richer and full of gratitude. And you’ll be giving yourself, even more, excuses to spend time celebrating with the people you love.
Learn To Trust Others And Be Reliable
Studies show that Denmark is one of the most trusted nations in the world. It is common for Danes to leave their doors unlocked, or even for parents to leave their babies in strollers outside shops and restaurants – something that would be unthinkable in other parts of the world.
And this is because the Danes not only rely deeply on family and friends but also on strangers. It may be due to the small size of the nation – with a population of approximately 5.6 million (3 million less than the population of London).
And with a relatively homogenous culture, the Danes share much of their genes – they are all distant relatives. Not only that, but immigrants also tend to integrate rapidly into Danish culture. People are very similar in how they dress, eat, organize their homes and in their values. And that creates a sense of trust.
But it’s not just the shared culture and the genes that build trust. Denmark has a healthy social status, which means that crime is low. When people have their needs met by the state, they are far more unlikely to become criminals.
Also, Denmark has severe winters that make the Danes trust their neighbors. You need to trust people, or you just will not survive. Trust is rooted in the country’s cultural heritage.
So how can we bring more confidence into our lives? It’s simple: trust is a decision. And it can be contagious. Learn to trust others, expect the best from them, and you may find that they will meet your expectations. Also, let pride aside and learn to ask for help.
That is how we build trust. Most importantly, model the reliability of the people around you by becoming a trustworthy person to others. That does not mean you should not be wary. Do not give your purse or wallet to strangers; you need to have good sense.
You should take small steps to increase your confidence in the people around you, strangers and friends, and give up your natural and suspicious fears.
Trust is the secret of Danes’ happiness because it creates a sense of security and community. Start with small attitudes to bring confidence into your life, and you can experience a great sense of well-being in the world.
Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.
“The Year of Living Danishly Quotes”I am not important. If I take a break, no one dies. And this is A Good Thing. Click To Tweet Being an immigrant is not for sissies. Click To Tweet Being a part of a club helps you to be an active person, involved in community life and with a sense of responsibility for the collective. This is important for developing a society of trust. Click To Tweet Being too thin isn't particularly desirable here. Women eat. Click To Tweet There is not truly bad weather, just bad clothes. Click To Tweet
Many factors contribute to the happiness of the Danes, but if we look at some common issues, they may include some basic principles. They are:
- Trust in others;
- Commitment to a balanced lifestyle;
- A focus on your home, family, and children;
- Leisure time;
- The love of celebration;
- And of course, the warmth.
Luckily, all these things can be adopted by anyone, whether a Danish or not. And it doesn’t matter if you live in a country with an advanced social welfare like Denmark. So regardless of your culture, climate or environment, you can find a way to live like these people.
Danish happiness means loving your life and the people around you. That means you do not have to move to Denmark to become a happier person. You just need to connect with the love and happiness that are already around you. So get off work early, make dinner for friends, celebrate something. And buy some good candles.
Learn more and more, in the speed that the world demands.