Today the sun will set in the Norwegian capital of Oslo at 4:06 pm. That sounds awful, especially for those of us living in the US, and makes us beg the question: how do nordic countries beat the winter blues when sunlight is so fleeting? One Stanford researcher, Kari Leibowitz, spent a winter in the northern town of Tromsø to find out Norway’s secret to embracing the dark winter.
Leibowitz says she discovered that the secret was to see winter as a season to be enjoyed, not endured. The Norwegian concept of koselig, or coziness, emphasizes winter comfort and gathering with family and friends. Soft blankets, warm coffee shops, and community activities keep spirits high. Imagine all the feelings of Christmas, but without the commercial pressure or stress.
Norwegians also don’t let chilly weather keep them indoors. They embrace the ski season and experience winter in all its wonderland glory. Leibowitz says there is nothing quite like a colorful winter sunset against the bright white snowy landscape.
It turns out, embracing winter is a simple as creating a mindset shift. Seeing winter not as the antithesis to summer, but an entirely different and equally wonderful natural phenomenon. Don’t be discouraged if it’s dark out when you leave work tonight. Grab a hot chocolate, invite some friends over for a board game, or enjoy a brisk walk through a frosty park.
From the archive: This popular healthy living story was originally published on The Optimist Daily November 22, 2019.