Cultivate the Art of Living

7 Lessons in Living from Denmark

Living becomes an art when you bring awareness to understanding and constructing the beauty in your life. Happiness is subjectively how much one likes the life one lives. In that, no one but you knows, or should tell you, how happy you truly are. Acting as both the Witness and the Jury. Over time however patterns emerge, this one from Denmark, on what makes for a happy life. Since first reading Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zone Way, where these findings were collected; we’ve mulled them over, applied them to our own life the past ten years and now present a highly curated list. Take what resonates with you, leave what doesn’t.
7 Lessons in Living from Denmark That All Start with “C”


Community and social relationships have become basic needs. Both the community we live in and the relationships we nurture.

Our community, the place we live, the infrastructure that has been built, and the recreation available shouldn’t be afterthoughts when considering where to settle down or live. Find communities that prioritize creating a walkable and bikeable city, as best you can. Those that move more live longer. Use that as your mantra.

Even the people you surround yourself with cannot be understated. Find your people wherever you are, whether through work or, belonging to a club or social group. Volunteer for civic leadership to create the community you want to live in and meet people who feel the same.


Curiosity is akin to intelligence, or so Einstein said. It’s also what makes for a happy and fulfilled life, albeit, because of the range of experiences. Happy people tend to make things happen instead of waiting for things to happen to them. On a fundamental level, happiness is an action we must take upon ourselves. Pursue new hobbies, seek new perspectives, and ask questions


Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, our ability to control our own thoughts and feelings is a sign of high happiness. Internal control and emotional intelligence has roots in Buddhist philosophy too, that we can alleviate suffering by working with the mind. Therefore, true sources of happiness are ultimately deeper patterns of behavior and thinking in our lives.


There is a now-famous Danish concept of hygge, which is a quality of being cozy and comfortable in a friendly and lively manner that cultivates feelings of contentment and well-being. First introduced to the western world through the Blue Zones book, this way of life is more than fireplaces and fuzzy socks, hygge is how the home, and ultimately your life, is made to live. Just like adding elements to create an inviting space or a full life, we also focus on items that can be removed and that no longer serve us.


Education, and inevitably our careers, should focus on asking the question “Who are you?” rather than “What can you do?” which promotes a spirit of freedom, equality, and disciplined creativity. Enlightenment came early to Denmark. These folks learned the timeless wisdom of turning their resources inward and focusing them on education, social institutions, and national pride.


Developing an individual’s artistic ability as a means to create social harmony is a uniquely Danish concept. With the freedom of individual expression, comes empathy and compassion. A commitment to tolerance can also be seen when it comes to topics such as porn, women’s rights, gay rights and equality.


Destination of the Danish family is, in fact, the family room to cultivate creativity. This is the space where everyone can do some form of activity, such as: homework, reading, music, working on a laptop, making art or sewing. There are no clocks, and no televisions are allowed as they are considered the two enemies of hobbies. This is an ideal environment in which any person or family can thrive.

Find Your Ever After

A rich person is someone who has a lot to be thankful for: nature, the company of other people, the capacity to enjoy a good book, an understanding of philosophy. This multidimensional life is within reach for most of us, bearing in mind the myriad of structural and systemic issues Americans face. These elements to the good life aren’t meant to be another to-do list, more of a guide on the path. Find the beauty where you can.

“I wake up in the morning and I see that flower, with the dew on its petal and at the way it’s folding out, and it makes me happy. It’s important to focus on the things in the here and now, I think. In a month, the flower will be shriveled and you will miss its beauty if you don’t make the effort to do it now. Your life, eventually, is the same way.”