Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy to Boost Well-Being

During the colder winter months, the Danish idea of hygge is all the rage. As snow is falling outside, people are focused on staying warm and cozy. But, now that the weather is heating up, there’s another Scandinavian philosophy that you may want to incorporate into your day: friluftsliv. After all, who needs blankets and candles when it’s over 80 degrees outside?


A bit difficult to pronounce (free-loofts-liv—if you were wondering), friluftsliv as a concept is actually pretty straightforward. The word translates to “free-air life” or “open-air living,” and that gets to the heart of what friluftsliv is. It’s all about going out into nature as a way to improve your physical, spiritual, and mental well-being. The term was popularized in the mid-1800s by Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, best known for his play A Doll’s House. He used the word in a poem to describe the importance of spending time in remote locations around nature.


The Outdoor Journal explains that friluftsliv is not about going outside for adventures or physical activity. Instead, it’s more of a mindful, reflective experience—one where you can just sit in nature and appreciate what’s around you. So, you don’t have to hop on your bike and trek up to the mountaintop or go on an exhausting hike to incorporate friluftsliv into your life.


Given all that, now that the weather is getting nicer, what can you do to live by this philosophy?


One way: You could go outside to relax in a hammock. No need to take a book, headphones, or the other usual items we bring for distraction. This should be time focused on appreciating the trees, birds, and plants around you. The camera to post photos of your newfound passion for friluftsliv? You can leave that behind, too.


It could take the form of a leisurely stroll on a trail that meanders through some nearby woods, allowing you to connect with nature—and yourself—and enjoy the fresh air that you likely aren’t getting in the office. While you’re outside, you can take time to develop your overall well-being.


Or, you can simply lay out a blanket in your backyard (or a nearby park if you live in an apartment) and take in all the beauty you’re immersed in and think about your role in the greater ecosystem surrounding you.


At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter so much what’s getting you out into nature, it’s just that you’re taking time out of your day to appreciate it, which, in turn, acts as a natural boon to your well-being. So, now’s the time to get outside and add some friluftsliv to your daily routine.


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