Hygge

PICTURE: Stella Rose/Unsplash

First it was the Danish concept of 'hygge' - a word associated with being cozy. Then came the Swedes with 'lagom' - approaching life with an "everything in moderation" mindset, 'còsagach', a Scottish word relating to being snug and sheltered, and 'niksen', a Dutch word which encapsulates the concept of doing nothing. What's the fascination with these European words-cum-wellness catchphrases? In the fast-paced lifestyle seen in many Western nations today, such wellness concepts appear to be broadly about slowing down and taking time to live in the moment as humanity continues its search for contentment and happiness in a world seemingly spinning faster and faster out of control (questions to which, of course, Christians believe the Bible holds answers). Often spoken about alongside buzzwords like "connectivity" and "community", the concepts have certainly attracted their fair share of adherents and critics (and spawned an ever-growing section in your local bookshop). “A really sticky concept from overseas can capture the imagination,” Cassie Jones, an executive editor at HarperCollins, told TIME magazine earlier this year, explaining the appeal of use of foreign words to capture the idea of the trends. She adds: “[Y]ou could say, ‘We’re appealing to the same idea of being intrigued by how another culture solves a problem.'” Of course, Christians have been among those responding to them and a quick search of the internet reveals a plethora of advice on everything from whether they're safe for Christians to adopt, critiques on how the ideas measure up the Gospel, and even to how to use them to evangelise. Of course, the trend for wellness concepts isn't just coming out of Europe - Japanese consultant Marie Kondo's 'KonMari' method for sorting out your clutter is just one example of others that are around. But don't expect the trend for the European catchphrases to end soon - among the other concepts which have gained traction this year are 'lykke', a Danish word for happiness, and 'dostadning', a Swedish word which captures the idea of getting prepared for death (and which can be translated as 'death cleaning').