The Source of Scandi Happiness: Swedish Proverbs for Your Everyday
Lifestyle expert at Contura shares Scandi wisdom to motivate, spark joy and find balance.
Over a year on from the initial UK lockdown, many of us are still jostling the blurred lines between professional and personal life whilst working from home – an environment that makes it difficult to manage hours and switch off when necessary, which inevitably makes us feel more stressed or frazzled and can have an adverse domino effect on other areas of our lives.
Catharina Björkman, Scandi lifestyle expert at Contura, believes the key to everyday contentment can be found in traditional Swedish mantras that promote balance, effective communication, and some old-fashioned creativity and hard work.
Catharina says: “After 12 months of working from home and living through multiple lockdowns, many Brits are finding life a little monotonous, are unmotivated, and are struggling to find joy in the everyday. It can be hard to achieve happiness when we’re so used to relying on outside stimuli or distractions such as meeting up with friends in the pub, taking the kids to the cinema, or enjoying some retail therapy.
“In Sweden we have a number of quirky proverbs and sayings that not only provide solid advice and wisdom, but never fail to raise a smile. And whilst some will serve as motivation, inspiring that fire in your belly, others will provide that little bit of reassurance you need to find balance, peace and contentment in the everyday.”
Read on for Catharina’s Scandi wisdom to help you achieve harmony and happiness…
Gå som katten kring het gröt
To walk like a cat around hot porridge
To walk like a cat around hot porridge is the same as “don’t beat about the bush”. This is a useful reminder for all of us to say exactly what we’re thinking and feeling, rather than talking around a difficult subject.
So, if you need to have a difficult conversation, try writing down the key things you want to say beforehand to ensure you don’t forget anything. If during the conversation you find yourself losing focus or feeling emotional, focus on your breathing or ask for a minute or two to grab a glass of water or cup of tea, which will allow you time to collect your thoughts before continuing.
Whilst this is definitely easier said than done, people will respect the fact you are able to be direct, succinct, and calm in your communications.
Ingen ko på isen
There’s no cow on the ice
This popular Swedish saying simply translates as “don’t worry”. We all have worries and anxieties from time to time, but next time you feel these starting to build, just remember “ingen ko på isen” – there are no cows on the ice – a phrase that never fails to raise a smile and serves to remind us that our problems are never as big as they seem, something we’d all do well to remember.
Klaga inte över för lite vind – lär dig segla
Don’t complain about the lack of wind – learn to sail
Similar to the English saying, “a wise man will make more opportunities than he finds”, this motivational proverb promotes creativity, resourcefulness and hard work. So rather than feeling discouraged when something doesn’t work out the way you want it to – for example a job opportunity or exam – flip the situation on its head and use it as motivation to create new and better opportunities.
Köp inte grisen i säcken
Don’t buy the pig while it’s still in the bag
This traditional proverb warns of making rash decisions without thinking through the consequences or long-term outcomes of our choices. When we’re feeling overly emotional, we’re more likely to act on impulse, but just like you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test-drive, it’s important to make sure your choices and decisions are informed and considered.
If you’re feeling impulsive, try listing out all the pros and cons of the decision at hand and then sleep on it, go for a walk, sit down with a cup of tea, or chat to a friend on the phone. Once you’ve reflected and are feeling calmer, return to your list of pros and cons and you’ll find yourself able to make a better decision.
Lagom är bäst
The right amount is best
Meaning not too little, not too much, just the right amount, this popular Swedish mantra is about approaching life in a more balanced way. Whether that be in terms of work, exercise, relationships, health, the environment – all aspects of life should be balanced.
In fact, this could be the secret to why Swedes are so often viewed as one of the world’s happiest nations – they Lagom helps them find joy, contentment and satisfaction in their everyday and eliminates the need to constantly strive for more or the superfluous.
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