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What to Do to Feel Contentment and More

I spend a good deal of therapy time talking with clients about how to self-soothe and talk themselves down from the ledge when they feel heightened anxiety. Ours is not at heart a culture that teaches or helps us do that in spite of all we hear about meditation, yoga, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. We’re not exactly a deep feeling culture. We’re externally rather than internally focused.

But Norwegians seem to have found a way to do what we need to take classes to learn. The word they use to describe what they call their national pastime is “koselig.” (“Why are Norwegians so happy? In a word: ‘koselig’” by David Allan, CNN online, 5/1/19, accessed 5/1/19). Allan says, “You could roughly translate koselig (pronounced "koosh-lee"), as ‘coziness,’ but that leaves out crucial components of it, like enjoying the company of others and a connection with nature.” Neither of these pastimes should be surprising to you. Research tells us that being in greenery and nature raises our spirits and that human companionship can help improve well-being.

The article goes on to say that “The act of creating our own light and warmth produces peace and contentment.” The author describes how to enjoy koselig: “Go to your happy place. Go on, close your eyes and picture it. Take a deep breath and hold it in your mind's eye for a long, joyful moment. Already, you feel more relaxed, less stressed, happier. And you aren't even physically there. My happy place looks and feels a lot like the common motifs many share: It's both in nature and insulated from it, like a cabin in the woods. I'm sitting by the golden light of a fireplace in a stuffed chair, under a blanket, with a warm beverage and engrossing book in hand. Music is playing, but it's slow and quiet. Family and friends are there, too. We'll play an unhurried card or board game and share funny stories. We'll eat a delicious meal together. It's snowing or raining, and we watch the weather unfold, go out in it and then enjoy coming back inside again. I don't need any other distractions in my happy place. I have everything I need to be fully connected and blissed out.”

Decades ago, visualization was all the rage in therapy. I used it in my early “normal” eating workshops, asking attendees to imagine themselves in their happiest, safest space or to be enjoying a buffet dinner or holiday party feeling comfortable with food and friends. Visualization sounds an awful lot like koselig. You get comfortable, take deep breaths, and create the inner image that relaxes you and makes you feel at peace with yourself and the world. If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing: instant bliss! Check out the books on visualization by Shakti Gawain.



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