The year was 2016 and everyone was hygge mad. Were you?
We remember it clearly. The Danish idea of cosiness, an untranslatable concept that involved lighting candles, snuggling up on the sofa and eating lots of cinnamon buns, became a global wellbeing trend after Denmark was named the happiest country in the world and hygge was credited with making it so. Suddenly, you couldn’t move in a bookstore without seeing a book promising to help you find your hygge and everyone ran out to their nearest two dollar shop to stock up on tea lights.
We still love the idea of hygge, and come winter you’ll find us rugged up in bed with big pots of tea trying to get hygge with it, but we’re also excited to try some of the other wellbeing trends from around the world. Here are a few of our favourites.
Like hygge, the Japanese concept of ikigai is hard to translate. In broad strokes it refers to a meaning or a purpose in life, something that gets you out of bed in the morning. But unlike hygge, it’s more difficult to define exactly what the real-world application of this concept is.
This is because everyone’s ikigai will be different. For you, it might be something as simple as your Sunday morning walk to the local farmer’s market, picking up a bunch of flowers on the way. Or it could be more of a complex thing involving achieving a good work/life balance and making sure you have plenty of time to spend with friends and family.
The idea behind ikigai is to spend time really thinking about what gives your life purpose and meaning and ensuring that you carve out time in your day-to-day to achieve that thing. The point is to think about yourself and what makes you happy, which in itself can help you achieve ikigai. It’s a never-ending circle that it’s probably good to give yourself over to.
For the Swedes, lagom is a way of life. Translating loosely to “just the right amount”, the phrase refers to a sense of minimalism and balance that those in Sweden try to have in their life. From a wellbeing point of view, it’s the idea that you will be happiest when you are not overwhelmed with a surplus of stuff, whether it’s the physical detritus of things or all the excess emotional weight of difficult friendships and taxing work environments.
In real-world terms, this can mean everything from building a capsule wardrobe to streamlining your commute — swapping a multi-change train journey for a bike, for example — and getting on top of your household organisation. It also involves things like meditation and slow, farm-to-table food.
Unlike ikigai, lagom and even hygge, the Swedish concept plogging is pretty simple to understand. Plogging’s definition is clear: it’s the practice of running while picking up litter, usually in a national park or beach.
The idea is to combine something that’s good for you (exercise) with something that’s good for the world (cleaning up rubbish). It’s hugely popular in Sweden but a word of warning: it works best in suburban areas rather than dense urban environments, where you’re likely to see rubbish every step of your run. Why not try plogging next time you go for a jog on the beach or through a park, though? The combined high of endorphins with doing good is unbeatable.
Up in Scotland, there’s a word for that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you offset the stress of the office with a Sunday spent watching a television show in bed with cups of tea (or maybe even a dram of whiskey).
That word is coorie, a new wellbeing trend that prioritises slow living and winding down. It shares a few similarities with hygge, including the need for cosy soft furnishings and lots of nights in at home, but coorie also encourages its practitioners to get outside too, with long lunches spent with friends over a Sunday roast at the pub, or going on long walks through the countryside with your family.
Basically, it’s about easing out of the fast-paced Monday-Friday and slowing down a little bit. Sounds pretty good to us.
Hygge, coorie, lagom… Most of these wellbeing trends involve cosiness and roaring fires and rugging up under the covers. (Can you blame them? They originate from countries where it’s bone-chillingly cold most of the year.)
But what about summer? Where’s the wellbeing trend for the warmer months? Meet fjaka, the Croatian concept of “lazy hours watching the world drift past”. It’s one of the reasons the Croatians are so relaxed, they say, and it involves their national pastime of relaxing with a glass of Croatian wine and a plate of fresh seafood on one of the country’s glittering beaches for hours and hours on end.
If you ask us, this might just be our idea of heaven. You’ll find us this coming weekend trying to achieve a little bit of fjaka for ourselves.