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The Global Guide To Being Happy, From Danish Hygge To Japanese Ikigai

If you’re on a quest to find inner peace, taking inspiration from traditions around the world is a great place to start.

From the Danish tradition of hygge to the Swedish pastime of lagom, wellbeing practices from abroad continue to make their way onto British soil, and we say the more the merrier.

The latest buzzword on everyone’s lips is còsagach, an old Gaelic word for feeling snug, sheltered and warm - it sounds seriously dreamy.

VisitScotland estimates còsagach will be huge in 2018, saying: “Scotland is a country where còsagach can be achieved in all seasons, but it’s winter when it comes into its own.”

Read on to find out more about it and other global happiness habits that may help you establish more balance in life.


Ikigai is the latest trend to take wellbeing bloggers by storm, but the concept has been prevalent in Japan for centuries.

Ikigai is the Japanese tradition of finding a purpose in life. It loosely translates as “a reason for being” and according to Héctor García, co-author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, it is “one of the key reasons [Japanese people] have the longest life expectancy in the world”.

Writing in the Guardian, García explained that in many Japanese communities, retirement is seen as a bad thing as it does not keep the mind and body active.

Instead, older residents practice Ikigai by remaining active members of their community throughout their lives, taking on tasks that require wisdom, in place of physical exertion. Through Ikigai, older generations are valued while younger generations learn.


In 2016 hygge was the word of the moment, but the principles of the Danish practice are timeless.

Hygge can’t be directly translated into English because the concept is more a feeling than a tangible object. Hygge is about feeling calm, feeling connected to your own sense of wellbeing and above all, feeling cosy.

This core principle of hygge can be applied to almost anything, from interiors - think cushions, candles and throws galore - to your sex life - try staying under the covers and getting toasty.

It’s the perfect happiness principle to resurrect as the weather turns.


Lagom loosely translates from Swedish as “not too little, not too much, just right” and means adopting a more balanced and frugal approach to living.

Practicing Lagom is all about letting go of a decadent, materialistic lifestyle and finding joy in looking after the planet.

To get a little Swedish happiness in your life, try being mindful of recycling, switching off all the unused appliances in your house or planting a tree. You’ll feel more connected to the world (and yourself) in no time.


The Turkish word keyif translates simply as “pleasure”, but the tradition of keyif centres on feeling present and shares many similarities with mindfulness.

According to work-life balance blog Happy Melly, you can achieve keyif by “practicing quiet relaxation”.

“Each person must find their own keyif moment: a few minutes alone in a special place to relax and engage with your surroundings. While mindfulness can help throughout the day, a moment of keyif is the cherry on the cake,” it says.

So turn off your devices, grab a Turkish coffee and get ready to feel calm.


The Hawaiian tradition on Ho’oponopono comes from the words ho‘o (“to make”) and pono (“right”).

Ho’oponopono is all about learning to forgive, through the process of disconnecting with your grievance and finding a way to reconnect with the individual. In theory, this can be achieved through something as simple as having an honest conversation with the other person, with a facilitator present.

According to Dr Matt James, Ho’oponopono can also be used as a process within your own mind, by training yourself to disconnect with negativity and reconnect with a happier, healthier you.


According to wellness website Body and Soul says ubuntu is an African concept based on the understanding that “no human exists in isolation”.

The word ubuntu reportedly comes from the Zulu and Xhola languages and the tradition has a big focus on community, with a emphasis that all of our actions have the potential to impact the lives of others.

Practicing ubuntu could range from volunteering with a charity to being more environmentally conscious. On a one-to-one level, you can channel ubuntu by trying to be more empathetic towards others, by putting yourself in their shoes before casting judgement.

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