Most of us have heard the talk about Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) recently and given the internet’s obsession with it, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s the cure-all for life’s ills. But what is it that the Danes have that we are so desperate to recreate?
Denmark regularly tops the World Happiness Survey, and has maintained consistently high happiness levels for over forty years, leading many people to try to emulate them with the concept of cosiness and spending time with loved ones. But are woolly socks, marshmallows and a nice roaring fire enough to keep us happy? Do the Danes really have it all?
When asked to scale their own happiness out of 10, the average Dane will answer between 7 and 8. Yet Denmark, along with many other extremely happy countries, has one of the highest rates of antidepressant use in the world, and has struggled with high suicide rates, which though consistently falling each year, are among the highest in the wealthiest European countries.
Research suggests that depression is much more difficult for an individual to cope with in happier societies, which means a country like Denmark and other high performing states have a great responsibility to help those struggling to keep their happiness levels as high as their national average. Interestingly, how we perceive ourselves compared to others is recreated in salary comparisons too.
So what should I do?
There’s no harm in adding some cosiness to your life, and there’s strong evidence that spending more time with your loved ones increases your happiness. But it’s worth noting that in the recent OECD Better Life Indexes, the Danes often interchange places on happiness levels with the other members of the top 5, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.
Therefore, it may be more useful to look at what the top performing countries all have in common, rather than trying to obsessively recreate one element of one country in a bid to create a blissful life. Click here to read what happy countries tend to have in common.