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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, June 02, 2018 1:00 am

Global lifestyle concepts are catching on in US

Megan McDonough | Washington Post

Hygge, the Danish lifestyle concept of cozy, comfortable and quality living, has bloomed over the past three years into a full-blown social and cultural phenomenon.

Pronounced “HOO-ga,” it was shortlisted as one of the Oxford English Dictionary's most influential words of 2016, and quickly became a marketing buzzword to sell Scandi-cool items, such as tea-light candles, fluffy throws and woven hats.

“Hygge to the Danes seems to be what freedom is to Americans,” says Meik Wiking, chief executive of the Happiness Research Institute and author of “The Little Book of Hygge” and “The Little Book of Lykke.” “It's ingrained in our cultural DNA.”

And hype over hygge doesn't appear to be dissipating. There are more than 3.4 million posts on Instagram bearing the #hygge hashtag, and Wiking's “The Little Book of Hygge” has become an international bestseller that has been translated into more than 30 languages.

Why would Americans be looking across the Atlantic to find prescriptions for happiness? Frankly, we could use the advice. The United States recently ranked No. 18 on the World Happiness Report, which is substantially lower than comparably wealthy nations. In fact, we've never cracked the top 10. Denmark, on the other hand, ranks consistently in the top three.

Here are five imported lifestyle concepts that have the potential to reach hygge status in the States.


Pronounced: “Lah-GOM”

Rough translation: “Not too much and not too little.”

Where it's from: Sweden

What it is: This holistic, less-is-more mentality is all about living simply, harmoniously and sustainably, and striking a happy work-life balance.

How to incorporate it into your life: Author Niki Brantmark of “Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life” recommends taking a fika (a break involving a hot beverage or a treat) to recharge your batteries during the workday.


Pronounced: “Ee-key-guy”

Rough translation: “Reason for being.”

Where it's from: Japan

What it is: This age-old Japanese tradition is all about movement, specifically uncovering your life's purpose and going after it.

How to incorporate it into your life: Do a little soul-searching and decide whether the career track you are on brings you joy and purpose. If not, it may be time to re-evaluate.


Pronounced: “Heh-SELL-ick”

Rough translation: The word derives from “gezel,” which means “companion” or “friend.”

Where it's from: The Netherlands

What it is: This Dutch term extols the warm-and-fuzzy feeling of coziness and togetherness you get when you surround yourself with people, places and things that are comforting, relaxing and good for the soul.

How to incorporate it into your life: Take time to relax, unwind and de-stress with friends. Good food, company and conversation are sure to inspire the warm-and-fuzzies.


Pronounced: “FREE-loofts-liv”

Rough translation: “Free air life” or “open-air living”

Where it's from: Norway

What it is: The deeply rooted philosophical lifestyle is centered on the joy and appreciation of nature, outdoor activities and beautiful scenery.

How to incorporate it into your life: Camp, hike and forest-bathe (taking in a forest atmosphere through the senses), or simply incorporate bike rides and strolls into your routine.