This week, we are moving from Hygge, a cozy life, to Friluftsliv, a vital life. A vital life is a way of filling your cup so you can best navigate in an uncertain and disruptive world. It’s about resting, rejuvenating and recovering to push forward from a place of vitality and overflow versus depletion.
Fostering Vitality and Wellbeing
After reading my post on Hygge last week, a Norwegian colleague suggested I look up “friluftsliv.” What an education!
Friluftsliv is a Norwegian concept which means “of the life.” It’s literal meaning is:
Fri – Free
Lufts – Air
Liv – Life
An Ancient Way of Life
It’s been part of the Norwegian culture for 5000 years, and the 19th century playright Henrik Ibsen popularized the term when he referenced it in one of his poems and a play.
Connect with Nature
Essentially it is about connecting with nature, without destroying or disturbing it, and engaging in an outdoor lifestyle: communing and immersing oneself in nature, not for sport or play, but for the sheer value in developing ones spiritual and physical wellbeing.
Activities could range from going on a Sunday hike with the family, skiing, ice fishing, to picking mushrooms. As I was learning about this phenomena, I came upon fun Friluftsliv facts on www.visitnorway.com:
- Friluftsliv has its own law, Friluftsloven, which includes the right to roam.
- Norway has several outdoor kindergartens (friluftsbarnehager), where the children spend 80 per cent of the time outdoors.
- Many Norwegians look for an active partner, and it’s not unusual to go hiking or cycling on the first date.
- In Norway, we have government-sponsored “libraries” where you can borrow outdoor gear.
- The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) has more than 260,000 members. Each year volunteers work for more than 550,000 hours doing maintenance on DNT’s 550 cabins, marking trails, planning trips et cetera.
- In Norway, you can take a bachelor’s degree in friluftsliv.
Turns out CNN covered a story on friluftsliv this month advocating that “life in fresh air,” spending time outdoors and being active, can help fight the winter blues. Science definitely backs being active and getting plenty of fresh air to promote good mental, physical and emotional health.
Good for Society
Norwegians say that someone who embraces this way of life demonstrates they are active, reliable and resilient. Heck, spending plenty of time outside in the cold months definitely shows someone is hardy! It is also believed to be good for relationships, the workplace and society.
Who could argue that getting out from behind a computer screen or phone, and taking full breaths and being active outside, is bad for you? Especially during the pandemic, this has to be a balm for the physically disconnected soul. Being physically distant does not have to mean being unhealthy, depressed or socially isolated. Being outside with others, in a physically distant way, allows you to connect with others and see their body and their face off of a zoom screen.
If you are an outdoor person, you just got permission/reinforcement for increasing your outdoor time. If you are not an outdoor person, no better time to start than now!
Some suggestions for embracing friluftsliv and cultivating a vital life:
- Take an aimless stroll in the park observing the birds or noticing the snow (or lack of it), or bend of the trees.
- Walk the dog in a mindful fashion.
- Spend an afternoon in a hammock.
- Go for a walk in the woods observing nature.
- Canoe in a lake.
- Sit outside and watch the clouds go by.
Pick one, or come up with another idea, and do it for the sheer enjoyment of it.
© Copyright 2021 Sage Leadership Strategies, LLC. All rights Reserved.
Suze Shaner is an executive coach and leadership & organization effectiveness consultant. She also teaches yoga and meditation – tools to keep one sane in uncertain times. She helps professionals step up to their fullest leadership, life, and growth potential. At times this means getting out of their own way in getting important stuff accomplished. www.sagelead.com.