Who doesn’t love the feeling of sinking down into a warm bubble bath surrounded by candles with a good book in their hand. There’s a word for that.
Do you love that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re sitting around a dinner table surrounded by your best friends and the conversation has the perfect amount of depth? There’s a word for that too.
With the emergence of the hygge trend, international lifestyle concepts have become as popular as self-care and gratitude journals. They tell us how to live our best lives without needing to go on Pinterest and then directly to the salon for a makeover or buying 52 boxes from Ikea to finally organize your closet. These words are better than that.
International lifestyle concepts help you enjoy your life more, not completely change it. So, what exactly are these mysterious words from across the ocean and how do you live them?
The coziest concept of all that has spawned a new generation of candle lighting, fuzzy sock wearing hashtags on Instagram and it seems as if the trend will continue on for years to come. Hygge is ingrained into the Danish culture the same way being overly patriotic is in the U.S. or the way Brits love the Queen; it’s as if they’re born with it (or maybe it’s Maybelline?)
Where it’s from: Denmark
How to live it: Hygge is a feeling of coziness and contentment. Of course, with the downright miserable winters in Denmark the Danes needed something to get them through those dark days. Surround yourself with things that create a cozy atmosphere:
Candles and fireplaces
Basically, anything cozy that would make you let out that long “ahhhh” sigh at the end of a long day.
After moving to Netherlands, this was one of the first words I learned, after “fiets” (bike) of course. It annoys myself and many Dutchies that gezellig is so consistently ignored over hygge, being that they’re so similar. However, at it’s core, gezellig is about a cozy atmosphere with a more social aspect.
It’s meaning is cozy or quaint, but the Dutch love to tell you it can’t be translated. The atmosphere is gezellig if your’re with friends, familly, and loved ones. Sitting at home alone is not gezellig, however it would be if your friends joined you with some drinks and candles. Dinner with family can be gezellig.
You can also use gezellig to describe people. For example, Donald Trump would by many people be considered “ongezellig” (not gezellig) and Betty White (any Golden Girls fans out there?) would be very gezellig.
Where it’s from: Netherlands
How to live it: Plan a dinner party or drinks with friends at your house and be sure to create a cozy atmosphere with candles and nice music.
Much like Goldilocks, always looking for something that was “just right” (I think it was a bed and food?) this concept is all about balance. Basically, it means “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right.”
Many people (especially Americans) focus constantly on having more, more, more. More money, a bigger house, a more expensive car. To live a lagom life is to life a balanced life.
Lola Akinmade-Åkerström told thelocal.se “Actually, I define lagom as ‘optimal’. Meaning, the decision we choose to make at a particular moment or about a certain interaction or situation is the best holistic choice for us individually or for the group, we find ourselves in. That is what lagom at its core tries to do.”
Where it’s from: Sweden
How to live it: When it comes to your work life, don’t burn yourself out with 50 and 60 hour weeks. Give yourself off time to decompress and participate in your hobbies. A work-life balance is key to a lagom life.
The literal translation is “drinking at home, alone, in your underwear.” Where some of these other lifestyle concepts can take a bit of planning and effort, kalsarikanni is perfectly easy for anyone to do. It’s basically the easy version of hygge. The best part? The English translation of the word is “pantsdrunk” meaning to get drunk in your underwear.
That moment when you get home and take off your bra and/or tight jeans, put on Netflix, and grab a wine or beer is the purest form of pantsdrunk (even more so if you binge watch an entire series while getting a little tipsy.)
Where it’s from: Finland
Pronunciation: Just say “pantsdrunk,” it’s much easier than trying to say a Finnish word
How to live it: Come home from a long day at work, remove all uncomfortable clothes in an orgasmic fashion, sit your butt on the couch, crack open a beer (or other delicious drink), turn on Netflix, and close the curtains and yourself off to the outside world like a hermit.
A New York Times article from 1940 is what famously made this known to the world when the headline read, “Sisu: A Word That Explains Finland.”
More than just a lifestyle concept, sisu is about a feeling within. It’s strength and determination in the face of adversity. When facing tough circumstances in life, it’s that extra courage you find deep down in yourself that helps keep you going. Remember that guy who had to cut his arm off in that 127 Hours movie? He was full to the brim with sisu.
Emilia Lahti (MSc, MAPP) says, “At the core of sisu is the idea that in each of us there is more strength than meets the eye. Even though the construct of sisu has its roots in Finland, it is relevant to all human beings anywhere in the world. It is a potential which we all share and which can have a powerful impact on our daily lives. Sisu is embodied by people everywhere who defy the odds and hold on to hope when there at first seems to be none.”
Where it’s from: Finland
How to live it: It’s not as easy to incorporate this into everyday life the way you would other lifestyle concepts. It’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone to help you develop strength and tenacity when facing tougher situations. Try small things throughout the day, like talking to a stranger if you’re a bit shy.
You can choose a lifestyle concept that really appeals to who you are, but you can also take small lessons from each. As we all become more and more connected throughout the world, taking lessons from international lifestyle concepts can improve your life with the added benefit of making you more open minded.