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How to live like a happy Danish bloke

Your New Year’s Resolutions probably boil down to one thing: be happier. Sure, getting a six-pack or learning to play the clarinet might help with that, but maybe we should be looking to the best for inspiration.

Late last year, you heard all about hygge, didn’t you? This mystical, unpronounceable concept the Danish have which makes them all happy and smug. Didn’t sound like it was for you but we are here to tell you that that’s not entirely true thanks to our list of Easily Actionable Changes (EAC) that have helped ensure Denmark was named The World’s Happiest Country, according to the World Happiness Report. 

Who wouldn’t love to be the happiest country in the world?

Do coffee properly

Do you like coffee? The Danes do, despite their coffee and cafe culture being totally at odds with ours. Far from just a means to a frantic end, it’s a chance for a bit of relaxation. Go and take ten minutes out of your day to really revel in that coffee making and really enjoy it. Don’t take it for granted; properly embrace it. Get yourself an AeroPress and one of those fancy bags of coffee from the Peruvian hills or whatever and go to town.

Eat like your granddad

Owing to the freezing weather and a dearth of better things to do, we guess, Danish families are dead into cooking, with whole families often cooking together. And while in the UK that’d probably end with a blazing row with the kids in a huff upstairs and the wife going tonto with a ladel, Denmark’s dinners end up warming, hearty fare: lots of pork, fresh fish, and vegetables, lots of breads and beer. What’s not to like? Lean meats and veg have your iron and protein covered and fresh fish keeps your brain strong: plus all that stuff tastes well better than cucumber quinoa salad you printed off the recipe for.

Actually look after your house

It’s much easier to let your house devolve into a wasteland than to actual put time, care, and, yes, effort into your gaff, but it’ll be worth it in the long wrong if you start to give a shit. A classic hygge interior is full of shabby sheek and throws and cushions and is a cosy little den for you to chill the eff out in: that’s a pretty tough concept to not get behind. Pop down Ikea and pick up some bits, head straight home, maybe hoover up a little, and go for it. Plus, looking at nice things increases your dopamine levels which makes you happier. You owe it to yourself to buy some pillows.

Invest in a new tracksuit

Told you that you’d get into this hygge lark. Comfort is a key tenet of the concept and what says “I am zen as fuck, actually” than laying around in an expensive tracksuit all day, heating turned way up, mainlining some overrated Scandi noir like the overwrought, subtitled drama fiend you always knew you could be? We’d pick this Sunspel grey cotton hoody and bottoms right now.

Slow the fuck down

Really. Chill out. The Danes might not get any sunlight, but you’d be lucky to see any of them rushing. Have you ever watched Christian Eriksen play? Or Niklas Bendtner? There is no rush in those boys. They do things at their own pace, giving themselves a little bit of time to actually enjoy what they’re doing. How many times have you had to run for the bus only to just miss it and be left stood there, sweating bullets, and late to work? Get up ten minutes earlier and plan your journey and the times of your transport and then just Do A Big Relax until your time comes. Your morning (and your heart) will thank you.

Read more

We’re definitely not saying read a book on hygge or ‘Shantaram’ or even anything remotely relaxing, but switching your brain off the tech cycle you’ve trained it to for a little while won’t hurt. Plus there’s something singularly fulfilling about finishing a good book – it’s a tangible thing that you have started, finished, and then ended and maybe, just maybe, you’ve learned something about spies or the mafia or an enigmatic striker along the way. We’re really into former CIA agent John Nixon’s absorbing non-fiction book ‘Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein’ before bedtime. See? Dead chill.

Streamline your friendship group

The social aspect of hygge is not to be underestimated, with people you care about ranked very highly in the list of “stuff Danish people care about, I suppose” and a really good way to kick that off is to fully just delete all of the bad/negative/annoying people out of your life. Who didn’t text you “Happy new year!” on New Year’s Eve? Who borrowed your The West Wing DVDs and didn’t give them back for eighteen months and when they came back they were all scratched and covered in dried splashes of blackcurrant squash? Who makes you say “Ughhh! This c*nt?” in your head every time they start speaking to you? These people will be first up against the wall.

Buy loads of candles

Not everyone can have a house with a fireplace in it, but buying a bunch of candles is definitely the next best thing. Investing in one of those expensive ones you always buy your mum for Christmas at the very last minute is a good place to start: Feu de Bois by Diptyque might sound Frencher than a lad called Pierre twirling a baguette but the fire-wood smelling candle is a perfectly Danish accompaniment to your home’s new vibes. Get one of those expensive ones and back it up with a bunch of cheap, scentless candles to really hammer it home.

(Main image – Flickr: Moyan Bren)