It translates roughly to “open air living” and is deeply ingrained in Norwegian culture.
It’s basically a commitment to celebrating time outdoors. No matter what the forecast.
In Norway it is said that there is no bad weather. Just bad clothes. It’s sort of a mantra. But in their language it rhymes and sounds better.
And it’s not just Norway. Friluftsliv is popular throughout Scandinavia.
Much like “hygge”, an originally Danish term, which is its indoor, feel-good counterpart.
A lot of companies give employees ninety minutes a week for outdoor exercise. They feel it’s part of the culture. There are tax breaks for companies that incentivize friluftsliv. Some pay compensation for employees that walk or cycle to work.
The same with schools. It’s actually a course at many. And incorporated in all.
I have a friend that moved to New England a few years ago. From California. She hates the winters. So would always leave and visit friends in warmer climes. But this year she couldn’t do that. So we shared a little friluftsliv with her. Making her take walks everyday no matter the temperature. Buy a Canada Goose coat. Wear mittens. She’s better now. Starting to really notice things around her. Meeting her neighbors. Realizing she has red cardinals in her yard. Grazing deer. A turkey or two. She’ll probably leave next winter but maybe not for the whole thing. And she just might have more fun while she’s here. Friluftsliv.
Scandinavian countries always score the highest on the international happiness index.
I think their penchant for the outdoors has a lot to do with that.
So what about us? We have a big beautiful country here. In the U.S of A.
And being outside is what we’ve done more of in the last year than ever before. We do all our socializing on walks looping around town. Dinner outside in our puffy coats. Chili with friends around the bonfire.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the possibilities of socializing outside. And the benefits.
I truly hope we keep that up.
We just need to find a good name for it. Friluftsliv won’t cut it.