During one of my endless scrolls through Instagram, I came across an image that featured a word, a word I had never heard or seen before… Fika.
A simple four letter sound but it’s meaning really struck a nerve. Technically, fika is a coffee break traditionally around 10am in the morning and maybe with some cake, not much different to the traditional British elevenses. However, the meaning of the word has since evolved into so much more.
It’s now considered to be a whole new concept, a state of mind or attitude and most importantly it plays an important part in the Swedish culture.
Why do I think this is so important? Sweden is consistently rated as being one of the top 10 happiest countries in the world. So why not incorporate more of their ways of life into yours? I don’t know about you, but coffee and cake always make me happy!
Loosely translated fika means ‘break time’ and I know that’s not something I make nearly enough time for. Remember being a kid in school? Turn up, do a couple of lessons have a break do one more have a lunch break then a couple more have an afternoon break before one last class and go home.
Unfortunately, such nice to haves are a taboo in adult life. I’m ashamed to say that I eat at my desk at least 3 times a week, although this is my choice as I chose to run during my lunch break if my work load allows it and the break from my screen and desk, along with the fresh air is a great distraction from my work responsibilities. I still put my headphones on and block out the world. I don’t interact, I don’t take part in social engagement until the end of the run when we stop and say good work to one another as we upload our workouts on Strava.
Fika is about engagement, spending time with people, slowing down and appreciating the good things in life. It’s less about keeping up with the Jones’s and more about stopping to smell the roses.
This doesn’t just happen in the Swedish culture! The French and Italian’s are well known for taking their time enjoying food and the company that comes along with it. Less coffee-to-go, more let’s chat over coffee and cake. (Coffee in it’s own right has created multiple communities across the world which I wrote about here).
I have so many friends that have busy lives and at times, WhatsApp chats of us trying to check our diaries can be so frustrating that you don’t even want to go out by the time you’ve finally arranged something. Have you ever sat there and thought I don’t want to go now? Or turned up in a bad mood. Honestly when you’re with people you care about and are close to those bad feelings melt away so quickly, it’s the power of being social.
FUN FACT: Thousands of years ago, humans had to be social creatures and communicate with each other, tribes would educate other tribes on what plants to eat and which ones not to eat. Move forward 2000 years and we now discuss what products to use, what brands do the best lipsticks. We share tips and tricks on EVERYTHING!
We are social animals by nature, even the most introvert ones.
Even if it’s just once a month seeing your friends and catching up IN PERSON, there are so many more benefits than chatting over the phone than you think. Following someone’s life through social media is not knowing them, we only post things that make us happy and you can easily misinterpret that as their lives being amazing, when in actual fact they’ve been going through something and could really use a friend.
I recently listened to the Deliciously Ella Podcast, Season 2 ‘Lessons in Happiness from Around the World’ which features Helen Russell, journalist and author of ‘A year of living Danishly.’ She talks about happiness around the world and how it’s perceived, very interesting and you can pick up a thing or two. There are things that we may talk for granted that other cultures truly treasure.
What’s your favourite social activity? Love a comment below.