Why Are Danes So Damn Happy?

Did you know that Humans who live in Denmark are some of the happiest Humans IN THE WORLD? Apparently only Finland’s citizen are happier, but I’m not sure if that counts because at one time Finland and Denmark were the same country. So it makes sense their people would share similar proclivities.

And one thing that stands out is both countries have a deep sense of Hygge — though Denmark claims the most hyggeness.

I was deeply curious about this happiness magik and started reading The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. What I found was hygge is a self-care mindset involving one’s entire life — one’s entire community even.

At first I thought I might be dealing with a Danish version of Feng Shui, but it’s way more than making sure there’s a clear path for energy to enter or leave a room. Hygge is 100% about comfort and safety.

It’s about who we associate with and how. It’s about a work-life balance that is actually balanced. It’s about the food we love and eating it without guilt. It’s about embracing coffee as the gift from The Gods that it is. It’s about a warm, cozy place to relax — completely, safely and comfortably. A physical place, an emotional place, a spiritual place.

As I read Wiking’s book, I found myself nodding along with each chapter. We KNOW this stuff on a cellular level. Programmed into our DNA from our ancestors who sat around campfires sharing a community meal and telling tales of myth and legend with their trusted tribe.

Humans love warm cozy nooks. With cushions and blankets. I have a reading chair that I love to sit and read in. I won’t lie — sometimes I nap in it as well. It’s that kind of chair. And hanging over the back of it is a lap quilt I made myself in all my favorite colors. You know? For the naps.

My favorite time of day is first thing in the morning, as I sit quietly communing with my wild birds and drinking a pot of coffee. Warm liquids of any kind are very hygge. Name your poison — mine happens to be coffee — but it can be tea or hot cocoa or even mulled wine. We drink down this warmth right into our very souls.

I am half Italian — so I understand this next one completely. Food = Love. Our favorite recipes — slow cooking stews, simmering soups, spicy gumbos, rich curries, thick marinara sauces, homemade breads — those kinds of recipes. The stuff that makes your whole kitchen smell just like ‘Home’. Of note: you can raise your hygge factor if you are cooking with another Human -which explains the complete joy I feel when I bake with The Magical Creatures.

Apparently Danes also eat a shit ton of sweets. If there is an occassion — they have a cake for it. And least we forget that Denmark is home to the well loved pastry — Danishes! The best part of being in the hygge zone means you partake of these soul-saving, happiness-inducing treats without guilt. If you have guilt — you’re doing hygge wrong. This part alone explains a lot about why Danes are so happy.

Humans are pack animals who enjoy gathering — we have all noticed since the pandemic how much we miss the gatherings of our packs. Our Humans — the handful of souls in whose company you can be 100% yourself. No shields, no masks. Those Humans are hygge — every time we are with them we feel safe, comfortable, relaxed. These kinds of social interactions are devoid of any angst or stress. Even for the introverted among us.

Hygge is also a style, both home and fashion. From the material of your furniture to the leggings you slide into — it’s all about comfort. In this I have been way ahead of the curve! My home is furnished with wood and leather. The rooms are painted in earth tones and there are plants all over the place. I gave up shoes, bras, and pants with the pandemic and have been happily living in leggings for over a year now. And should my feet get cold, I break out some very special warm socks — handmade with love by my cousin — especially for me.

Denmark spends a lot of time in the dark. Their winters are long. Really, really long. As such it makes sense that artificial lighting wouldn’t be popular. Enter candles. And fireplaces. There you are — in your cozy nook, dressed in your favorite leggings, covered with a quilt, hot drink in hand, all aglow in candle light ambiance — in front of your warm fireplace. This is very high-level hygge.

Every thing I mentioned is all well and good, of course. But some of you out there still have to work. Wiking tells us that in Denmark — hygge even comes to work with them. Cakes for any and every occasion. There is no business casual; there is only casual. They even have candles at work, school, All. The. Places. Humans have wool socks and blankets in their desk drawers. And everyone goes home at five. Parents leave at four.

This explains so much about why Danes are so damn happy!

The good news is individuals all across the globe are recognizing their need for comfort, security, support — we market it as self-care here in The States. Because of western culture, it’s up to each of us to cultivate our own little circles of hygge. Often times against the will of our society which glorifies rugged individualism. We are encouraged to give 110% — until it hurts.

Of note: The US makes the top 20 of Happy Nations at #14. I’m frankly surprised we scored that high!

Find your blankie, curl up with your favorite book, and a nice warm cuppa of your beverage of choice. Forget about everything else — just focus on how wonderful Life feels right Now. Don’t let anyone intrude on your hygge moment.


“Live life today like there’s no coffee tomorrow.” — Meik Wiking

Self discovery in progress, stay tuned

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store