People from Denmark have topped the latest UN World Happiness Report, winning the title of the happiest country on earth… again. With the UK ranked at a number 23 on the list, it seems we all have a lot to learn from the Danes.
What we really need to do is adopt their concept of 'hygge'. Pronounced 'hoo-ga', hygge alludes to a feeling of cosy intimacy and contentment. It's all about creating feelings of happiness, friendliness and wellbeing within everyday life.
Sound appealing? Well we've put together ten ways you can be a bit more Danish and add some hygge into your life.
1. Light candles
According to the European Candle Association, Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere in Europe, such is their devotion to creating a cosy hygge environment. The flickering flames create a warm glow and add a contented atmosphere to any rooms.
2. Spend time with family and friends
We all know that having a good time with the people we love makes us happy. But other than the odd celebration, we don't sit around a big table with our nearest and dearest nearly as much as we'd like to. So surround yourself with your loved ones and eat, drink, and be merry. You don't need an excuse.
Be kind to yourself and don't deny yourself anything. Danes don't diet and binge like we tend to do in the UK – they mindfully indulge. And from what we see, it doesn't do them the slightest bit of harm. So, go on have that slice of cake with your coffee – you deserve it.
4. Sit by the fire
There are few things in life which evoke feelings of cosiness and warmth more so than a roaring fire in the chilly winter months. A proper hygge fire should, of course, use real wood, but we'll let you get away with a standard gas fire.
5. Leave work on time
The average Dane will leave the office at 4pm. Do not presume, however, that this makes them slackers. (Their workers are, in fact, the second most productive in the EU.) Once they've done their day's work, they clock off and get out. Evenings are for hobbies and seeing family and friends – not working overtime.
6. Make porridge
Whipping up a warming bowl of porridge in the morning is a great way of finding hygge and bringing a sense of togetherness with the family to the start of your day – Goldilocks and The Three Bears style. We suggest indulging in some creamy oats, topped with cinnamon and apple.
7. Get outside
Don't be fooled, there's more to hygge than staying cooped up indoors. You see, it's all about balance and living a healthy life – so as well as that slice of cake, exposure to the outdoors is absolutely key.
8. Dress for the cold
Now we all know the stereotype of hardy Northerners, out on the town on a winter's night, arms and legs bare, seemingly oblivious to the freezing cold. It's time for us to move as far from this as possible and do as the Danes do and abide by Alfred Wainright's motto 'Der findes intet der hedder dårligt vejr, kun dårligt påklædning!' ('There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!')
9. Turn your mobile off
Hygge is the antidote to modern life. It's all about embracing life fully and living in the moment, something which is very difficult to do if you're glued to your phone screen. So put down your mobile – and your laptops and tablets for that matter – and enjoy the here and now.
10. Read more
Although hygge encompasses the feeling of togetherness, you can still achieve this on your own. One of the most hygge things you can do is cuddle up under a blanket and get stuck into a proper, paper book. So put your kindles down and get reading.