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The Year of Living Danishly

Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country

By Helen Russell
12-minute read
Audio available
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell

The Year of Living Danishly (2015) is all about Denmark and why it is considered such a great place to live. These blinks take an inside look at Danish culture and society to explain why this small Scandinavian country consistently tops the UN World Happiness Report, as well as the well-being and happiness index of the EU Commission.

  • Students of sociology and researchers interested in happiness measurements
  • Supporters of social democracy
  • Anyone fascinated by Danish culture

Helen Russell is a British journalist and author whose work has appeared in The Times, the Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

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The Year of Living Danishly

Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country

By Helen Russell
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell
Synopsis

The Year of Living Danishly (2015) is all about Denmark and why it is considered such a great place to live. These blinks take an inside look at Danish culture and society to explain why this small Scandinavian country consistently tops the UN World Happiness Report, as well as the well-being and happiness index of the EU Commission.

Key idea 1 of 7

Danish happiness begins with a comfortable and stylish home life.

When most people think of Denmark, their mind will jump to LEGO, frigid winters and a confusing language. But more recently, this Nordic nation has come to be associated with a new word that Danes absolutely love: hygge.

While many people still struggle to explain what it means, it’s actually quite simple: hygge just refers to coziness and a nice home environment.

For instance, just about everyone in Denmark likes to stay indoors with family and friends during the winter; this is their time to get hygge. The word can also be used as an adjective or verb, and essentially means having a cozy time. In other words, it’s a lifestyle concept that’s associated with home, people, food, drinks and cold weather.

That means a nice dinner with friends can be hygge, but so can cuddling on the sofa with your sweetheart, or a glass of wine and some candles to chase the chill of the dark, cold weather.

To ensure such experiences are ready at hand, Danish people transform their homes into environments of pure comfort. For instance, most Danes keep their houses tidy; people are expected to remove their shoes when entering a house and, to create small cozy corners, they use lots of lamps. These range from stylish ceiling chandeliers to floor and table lamps.

In addition to this electric light, they also use tons of candles for a warmer ambience. In fact, Danes burn more candles per person per year than any other European nation.

The final basic addition are blankets and cushions to help them stay warm. These vary by season and it’s quite common to have different sets of cushions for winter and summer.

So, why do the Danes go to such great lengths to set their homes up for hygge?

Well, research shows that a comfortable and stylish home makes you happy. For example, a 2011 study done by the University College London. It found that simply looking at something you consider beautiful will release dopamine in your brain, making you happy. As such, having a comfortable home environment, marked by a tidy and stylish interior, is key to Danish happiness.

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