Do as the Danish do

The three things Danes do that optimise happiness and minimise stress.

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Do as the Danish do (source: Rick Steves)

The three things Danes do that optimise happiness and minimise stress.

You may have heard that the Danes are a happy people. If so, you heard correctly. If not, now you know.

Good chat.

Denmark was last year titled the happiest country on Earth according to The World Happiness Report, which, put basically, takes a sample from each country and surveys its subjects in an effort to determine the average level of overall happiness of each country’s citizens.

Australia was ranked number nine which isn’t too bad, but for a country of such privilege and beauty I felt we could do better.

“But how”, you ask?

“I just wish someone would write an article articulating how we could improve as a country in optimising our happiness levels and would highlight in an easily memorised format the three most important lessons we can learn from Denmark.”

Well stop right there dear reader because you’re in luck.

I’ve written that very article you so keenly crave and better yet, I’ve condensed down pages of research, facts and figures into three simple lessons we can learn to better ourselves, and better our chance of climbing the happiness ladder for years to come.

1. Trust

Though in Australia we are taught to avoid men in white vans, to never talk to strangers and that hitch hiking is the devil’s game, in Denmark there is a culture of complete trust. 79% of Danes say they trust each other. Wow.

They leave their homes unlocked, trust their babies in the hands of strangers and are encouraged in school and at home that the world is an inherently good place. I am pretty sure I was taught to trust no one and to avoid eye contact at all costs. I’m a nervous wreck.

2. Beautifully decorated homes

The Danes are minimalists whose no-clutter homes provide them a tranquil place to relax and rejuvenate after a long day at the office. The furniture inside is beautifully crafted and their walls decorated with art. Studies have shown that looking at beautiful things has been linked to making us happy. It’s science and you can’t argue with science.

3. Hygge.

Hygee, pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, is a word that does not directly translate into English, but can be best described as a feeling of cosiness, comfort and warmth.

How is it achieved? By lighting candles when it’s dark, cosy-ing up in blankets when it’s cold and simply by treating each other well. It is a kind of philosophy the Danes live by that emphasises the importance of comfort and relaxation and slowing down the fast pace of life.

Family and friends are hygge, blankets are hygge, dimly lit rooms are hygge. It is Denmark’s little secret and it is gorgeous.

So let’s hang some art on the walls, light some candles and leave the door unlocked.

Together, we will make Australia happy again.