How the Norwegian “friluftsliv” way of life can help you make it through corona and cold weather

Hiking snow winterPhoto: Riccardo Chiarini / Unsplash
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Stay warm by embracing the cold!

You may have heard of koselig – but getting cozy isn’t the only way Norwegians tackle wintertime.

Friluftsliv (pronounced “free-loofts-liv”), is an amalgamation of the Norwegian words for free, air, and life. As a whole, it can translate approximately to “open-air living”.

Sounds nice enough, right? What about when it’s applied to frigid, sub-zero temperatures? Well, friluftsliv actually denotes how many Norwegians have not only dealt with, but embraced, Arctic winters over the years.

Non-Norwegians can learn from the concept, too – especially during the colder months amid a pandemic.

Friluftsliv’s poetic birth

“In the lonely mountain farm,
My abundant catch I take.
There is a hearth, and table,
And friluftsliv for my thoughts.” – On the Heights

“Here in this deserted dwelling
I have housed my wealth of treasure;
There’s a bench, a stove, sweet smelling
Air, and time to think at leisure. [collectively, this concept is written as friluftsliv in the original]” – On the Heights

“Now I have finished with my friluftsliv,
The leaves are falling, now the world can take me.” – Love’s Comedy

Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen is thought to have coined the word in two of his famous works: “On the Heights” (1859) and “Love’s Comedy” (1962).

Translations are by Reed and Rothenberg (first) and John Northam (second and third).

How to apply friluftsliv to your own life

The idea here is not to fight against the cold, but rather to enjoy it by spending as much time outdoors as possible.

If the prospect seems daunting, remember the old Scandinavian proverb: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

With this in mind, pack on the layers. Don’t refrain from piling on the wool, fleece, and every winter accessory you can (scarves, hats, mittens…). That way, you can enjoy friluftsliv carefree.

This way of life encompasses everything from going on a hike through nature, across organizing a ski trip with friends, to warming up with a weekend bonfire on the beach.

Not every pursuit has to be grand to be considered friluftsliv, however. It’s quite the opposite. The goal is to get outside and connect with nature every day – even if only for a short time. This means a daily stroll through your neighborhood is just fine. Of course, larger trips are encouraged. If you don’t live near a ski or hiking area, or if you’re a city dweller, consider packing a picnic and heading to your local park.

The key is to find an activity that will make you happy, even during a corona winter. Maybe that’s going for a jog with your dog; maybe it’s having a beer while the sun sets. Whatever helps you put aside the cold – and your worries – and feel connected to nature.

The happiness factor

If you manage to find your moment of friluftsliv happiness or peace each day, it might just change your life in general for the better.

Norwegians have a high happiness ranking. The country was #5 on the United Nations Happiness Report for 2020, while its two largest urban centers, Oslo and Bergen, were among the top 10 happiest cities in the world.

Many attribute Norway’s high happiness factor largely to focus on spending time being active outdoors.

Have you ever partaken in friluftsliv without knowing it? Are you ready to try it out? Write to us and let us know!

Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayTravel

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