Koselig, and the winter mindset

capital hills sunset blowing snow 2015-01-30With winter approaching, we found this interesting: It's an Atlantic article by Kari Leibowitz -- who's in a PhD program for social psychology at Standord -- about her research into how people in Tromsø, Norway (inside the Arctic Circle) keep their spirits up during the long, dark winter.

One way is that they embrace the concept of koselig (Norwegian word for "cozy") and revel the chance sit by the fire and snuggle in blankets.

Another way: mindset -- specifically they just don't think of winter as something through which to suffer. A clip:

... I also believe the cultural mindset of Tromsø plays a role in wintertime wellness. I found myself the happy victim of mindset contagion after Fern told me she refused to call the Polar Night the mørketid, or "dark time," preferring instead to use its alternative name, the "Blue Time" to emphasize all the color present during this period. (Plenty of people with a positive wintertime mindset might still refer to the Polar Night as the "dark time," but Fern's comment was indicative of one of the ways she purposefully orients herself towards a positive wintertime mindset.) After hearing this, I couldn't help but pay more attention to the soft blue haze that settled over everything, and I consciously worked to think of this light as cozy rather than dark. And rather than greeting each other with complaints about the cold and snow, a common shared grumble in the U.S., my Norwegian friends would walk or ski to our meet-ups, arriving alert and refreshed from being outdoors, inspiring me to bundle up and spend some time outside on even the coldest days.

We would say this generally matches our own experience upstate. The more we embrace winter -- and get out and do things -- the better it seems. Few things can put you back in a good frame of mind during February like an evening skate on the frozen pond.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Ask AOA: How do you shake off the winter gloom?
+ Underrated things about a snowy day


Where is the "LIKE" button on this post? Every year I state publicly that I enjoy winter and am happy when the weather turns colder and every year someone tells me I am "nuts" or "crazy" or "stupid." Thanks for reminding me I'm not alone!

(I know I'm not alone, it just feels that way sometimes. High-five, fellow winter-lovers)

Yes, yes, and YES!!! I have to agree with "ajw93" that I feel like I'm one of those rare north-easterners who genuinely enjoys winter and can't wait for it. This concept of koselig is the missing term for what I’ve felt winter to winter, appreciating the turn of the seasons and what they bring, but always eagerly anticipating winter. As September rolls around and I'm starting the snow dances, I get looks of derision by my colleagues, who mumble and grumble about why we can’t be more like San Diego. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, where most folks I work with tend to want to lock themselves up at home and chill in their backyards during the summer months and the thought of being confined inside eats at them. But I think there is so much potential and opportunity out there if you just get at it. Living in the city of Albany, specifically, I tend to walk or bus everywhere anyway, so I’m more prone to discover all kinds of great winter activities, especially when I’m not trying to get out into the mountains to snowshoe. Maybe that helps make a difference. Either way, I’ll continue to embrace winter and work hard to get my peers to do the same.

ajw93, you're not alone! I already brought my skates to work so I can run over to the ice rink at the plaza and do a few laps at lunch time and we're getting the snow shoes down from the rafters in the garage this weekend! It's the time of year for flannel sheets, long snowshoe walks in the woods with a thermos of cocoa and sitting by the fire. I have that attitude now but by April I really am done and ready for spring.

Whenever I hear someone (inevitably just back from Florida) kvetch "ugh we are living in the wrong part of the country" I think to myself nope, I'm just where I want to be. I'm never sorry to see the end of summer because fall comes, and when we get those first cold days I love getting cozy with my wool socks and a warm beverage. Bring it on, December.

Even if one isn't into the Great Outdoors (though to some extent I am), the winter offers such potential for cocooning (though "koselig" is a much better term). I look forward to the end of gardening and entering my winter cycle -- baking bread, knitting, reading a book while sipping a warming glass of a sweet, herbal liqueur, too potent for the summer months.

I never thought much about winter growing up in Europe. It was an integral part of life, like a sunrise or sunset.
Here in US I complain A LOT. Because there's an option to have an endless summer, it's just not for me at the moment

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