Updated: Jul 6
Hi! Let me tell you a story that starts in England and carries us across the North Sea to Norway. I was born and grew up in the gentle green hills of southern England, a thousand miles away from the rugged mountains and striking coastline of Norway and the Nordic life, but in 2007 I met my Norwegian partner Andre and discovered a different way of life. A way of life that brims with intention, cosiness and simplicity. It was the Nordic Way of life.
It's a way of life that has made me happier, more grounded, healthier and more intentional but it's not a way of life that I could have learned without doing a lot of digging and questioning and being immersed in Nordic culture Recently I was considering to myself why my life is better living in Norway and what I would choose to keep as those healthy Nordic habits if I ever left. Because I am of the firm belief that you don't need to live in a Nordic country to live a Nordic life. We can all do it wherever we are in the world.
So allow me to share with you the reasons why MY life is better in Norway and the things I would carry with me wherever I lived in the world.
Less fast food
This is something that might not seem immediately obvious but after spending some time in Norway you would gradually become aware of how limited the fast food choices are and how expensive they are. There is no McDonalds $1 menu or the chance to pop into a pasty shop and grab a £2 sausage roll. Yes you can get fast food and things along the lines of junk food like packets of cookies but there is nowhere near the choice that there is in Germany or the USA for example. As a result you begin to eat less of it and crave it less, until suddenly you find you are eating fast food very rarely indeed.
More time outside
This is most definitely a culture thing. People in the Nordics have a deep understanding of how nature can benefit our moods and bodies, and just how important it is to protect the natural world around us. Because of this you are slowly drawn into that and after feeling the benefits firsthand you will never let that go.
This is a controversial one, because I know people who live here in Norway who will tell you that Norway is a big spender. But the cost of almost every item is so much more than most other European countries and so you have to think quite hard about every purchase. And because of that my family and I have made a conscious and intentional effort to be less commercial. I can't imagine that is something we would ever have done or thought about doing anywhere else.
Worrying less about the calories
You rarely feel food guilt in Norway. Healthy and simple food choices are presented to us regularly at shops and in adverts, but there is no pressure to eat healthily. However, when one indulges at a party or a birthday or at Christmas calories are never mentioned. You enjoy it in the moment and appreciate that you are not going to eat that way everyday, so why not make the most of it now. Tomorrow you can get outside and eat some extra vegetables.
More acceptance and inclusivity
It's not a secret that Scandinavia is famous for it's inclusivity of everyone regardless of race, gender, colour, religion, hair colour, height, you name it! But this acceptance goes a bit deeper than that. It's an acceptance and respect of everyone and understanding that we all have a part to play in society. So to be rude to someone emptying your bin is as frowned upon as being rude to the King.
A more sustainable way of life
This may be more of a choice than simply because we live in Norway, but we have found it much easier to be sustainable since living here. For a start we have a lot more space than we would ever have had living in southern England and we are much more motivated to do so because of the mindset that we are surrounded with.
We are very lucky in Norway that we have curbside recycling for almost everything from paper and cardboard to plastic wrap and cans. But there is also an option to recycle plastic drinks bottles and metal drinks cans. We pay a small deposit on each that we buy and the deposit is returned when you return the bottle to the special recycling unit that you find in most supermarkets. It's a very clever way to encourage people to recycle properly.
Enjoying the seasons
You can't deny a strong change in seasons in Scandinavia. It's incredibly obvious if you are moving to and from winter especially. You find yourself suddenly plunged into freezing temperatures with snow and ice and the heat and green of summer seem like a distant memory. This change makes us enjoy each season all the more. It's important to make the most of every season as they are fleeting and will soon be gone for another year.
Looking for traditions
Traditions play an important part in Norwegian culture and they are easy to find everywhere. Norwegians are inordinately proud of their Viking heritage and what it brought to the world, but many people can also trace their ancestry back several hundred years. In Europe we take DNA tests with a very big pinch of salt and they are generally considered to be a bit of fun, but with proper research it's possible to trace your ancestors and follow you roots back.
More mindfulness and intention
This is something that we hold quite tight to in my family. It's taken effort and thought and a lot of trial and error, but the mindfulness and intention that come with each decision we make now bring stability and gratitude to our family life.
Are these things that you already embrace in your life? Or maybe it's something you are striving for. It's taken me a while to figure it all out, but once you are set on the path it's a very fulfilling one to follow. My own path has taken me on a route that is allowing me to help other people live a simpler, more mindful and more Nordic way of life and with that I launched The Nordic Way membership. Each month we explore a different Nordic habit or tradition that will bring us closer to a life filled with intention and simplicity. I know that it's something so many of us are looking for and I would love to help you as I have helped thousands of others.