The Norwegian Philosophy of Thriving in Winter
A strategy for getting through the dark days ahead
Winter is coming. And this year, even before the temperature drops, it’s feeling frostier.
More than ever, it seems set to be a season of survival for those of us who have already been through some form of quarantine. What we need — right now, long before what could be the most testing of times — is a strategy borrowed from those perplexing people who don’t just survive but thrive during the winter: the Norwegians.
And not just any Norwegians. The coldest ones.
Stanford psychologist Kari Leibowitz discovered in her pioneering study on winter mindset that the further north people live in Norway, the more positive they tend to feel about winter. Why? The secret seems to lie in a word that sounds suitably like a magic spell: koselig (pronounced “koohshlee” and with the related noun variation kos). This untranslatable word indicates “a sort of shared, safe togetherness,” according to Scandinavian language expert Arne Kruse. “It can describe a house, a situation, a meal, a conversation, or a person,” conveying “this feeling of safe, warm, and good.” He points out that we do have a very similar word to “kos” in English, and that’s “cozy.”
Koselig might remind you of hygge, the seemingly similar Scandinavian concept of coziness that had a cultural moment circa 2016. Candles, fireplaces, and blankets are important in both. But while koselig is related to hygge, it’s more comprehensive. Leibowitz explains that the koselig mindset is about making the best out of a bad situation, finding a way to “connect with the opportunities of this moment for greater reflection and deeper meaning and stronger relationships and social connection.”
Sounds like a perfect plan. But how can you incorporate koselig into your pandemic winter? The key is to create a unified theory of coziness that includes connecting with others and spending time out in nature.
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