We are a nation whose standard of living definitely improves. And since, according to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we meet the basic ones, we begin to think of the higher tier. We have the means required to live, now the question is: how. We are looking for answers in bookstores, where shelves are full of guidebooks on how to make every day lucky and satisfying.
Over the past few years Poles have been in awe of the Scandinavian goods. We read crimes, buy furniture and sweaters from the north. With the increase in popularity of the region, which we have ignored so far as bland and gray, many guidebooks have emerged praising the lifestyle of the modern day descendants of the Vikings. First Norwegian “hygge“, then Swedish “lagom“.
Hygge can’t be translated into any language, it means roughly the sense of cosiness, closeness and sociability. It’s finding pleasure in small things: in burning candles, baking good cake to go with a cup of coffee, an outdoor stroll. “Hygge comes from the need for simplicity, the desire to return to the basics.” It favours the abandonment of consumerism. Exchanging fast food for slow life. Shutting down the computer, turning off your phone and going out. In Scandinavia there is a law that allows anyone to use any land as long as he doesn’t do any damage. (excluding private ownership, of course) It means that you can set up a tent, start a fire and spend time surrounded by nature. There are no closed national parks, designated camping zones.
Scandinavians spend a lot of time in nature, enjoying its beauty and beneficial, sometimes even therapeutic effect. And they enjoy it very much. Hygge means being close to nature, using its goods, respecting it and treating yourself as a part of it. In the book “Fortunately Hygge”, apart from advice on how to spend your days cosily, you will also find a whole lot of interesting recipes, perfect for autumn and winter.
The Swedish response to hygge is lagom that can be translated as “not too much, not too little, just enough”. Lagom means searching for balance in everything. We work just as much as we need, we eat moderately, but enough not to feel hungry, we spend appropriate amount of time with friends.
A significant part of Swedish style is the pursuit of a state when nothing goes to waste.
We use the remains of food, we make over old clothes, paint the furniture anew. We eat healthily, we dress up functionally, we get together to clean someone’s garage. We don’t waste time nor strength. But all that effort gets rewarded. Fredagsmys – it’s a holy time for the Swedes: on Fridays they get into sweatpants, they open crisps and chill out while watching their favorite show. This evening is about complete relaxation, there’s no place for high-heels. It has to be lazy and comfortable.
If you are interested in life, not just a happy one but also long, then look for your own ikigai. Ikigai is a goal leading people through life, motivating them to be active and to develop. The Japanese know what they are talking about, after all, they have a unique town with the highest longevity rate in the world. To safely pass the 100-year life limit, you should eat well, sleep well and take care of your mental health.
You can find guidelines for these activities in the book “Ikigai. The Japanese secret of a long and happy life”. For those who are struggling with autumn blues, it may be helpful to read the chapter on logotherapy and finding the reason to live. Those who find everyday life monotonous will discover exercises to stimulate the brain and small challenges to keep it active. What is more, there are whole yoga sequences for the body and introduction to meditation for the spirit.
And what if none of these life styles fits you?
If that’s the case, I recommend “It’s going to be fine, somehow. Happiness in Polish”. Every Pole should read that charming book at least once every six months. Even to remind ourselves that we are a nation not only of insurgents, patriots and martyrs, connected by decades of martyrology. Because there is cavalryman’s flair in all of us, which is a combination of hygge and lagom, and it also can’t be properly translated into any other language. We are creative, funny, we can have fun and laugh at ourselves. We live in a paradise full of colors, magic places, unique traditions and … contradictions. Only in Poland there’s countryside that blooms all year round. Only we can be the masters of sneer. Only here there’s a city with dwarfs running around. If you feel that you are complaining too much, calm down. First of all, it is our national feature, so, you know: “Sorry, it’s just the way it is”. And secondly, there is a cure for it – a funny book that makes everyone smile.