How Taking a Break Can Mean Making a Life

Often on Sunday nights my husband and I review the week’s calendar to make sure all bases—at least those that we foresee—are covered. Like so many people, we’ve got a bunch of things going on. Between work, our kid’s activities, and other responsibilities, it’s scramble, scramble, scramble.

To what end?

The culture of busyness is allegedly supposed to be taking a hit, but I don’t see that happening. Lots of talk…but no action when it comes to truly slowing it down and designating time for fun or relaxation—or even a break in the day.

Whatever used to be a coffee “break” has turned into drive-thrus and to-go cups. Sure, there are times that we may get together over a cup of coffee and chat with a friend, but those are exceptions rather than the rule. Coffee is more about the caffeine than the consumption. It’s fuel to get us to do more, get going, wake up, stay up…a trend for the trendsetters.

Much of the rest of the world sees it quite differently. And better.

Sweden has fika. It’s a time of the day—often afternoon—where you get together with people and have coffee and maybe a sweet treat of some kind. You sit and socialize. The point is not to caffeinate and continue cranking but to slow down and appreciate a chance to enjoy coffee and conversation. You take the time to enjoy it…together.

Concept alert.

Of course, there’s tea time in Britain, siesta in Spain, riposo in Italy…different cultures and specifics, but similar spirit: let’s take a break from the day.

It is that essence of savoring the moment that makes a life. Always being on the run only makes you breathless—and has you running right past the very things that are worth stopping for.

[Sadly, how America handles time seems to be influencing some countries that have a more leisurely approach to it. It should be the other way around, but the time bully is winning.]




In Denmark, there’s the art of hygge, which is the concept of creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying your life and the people in it. It’s become a trendy idea lately, but don’t let the snobs undercut the beauty of the concept. Forget the trend, and instead embrace the notion of needing to get cozy and spend time connecting with simple pleasures and one another.

Your own personal hygge doesn’t have to look anything like the Danish take on it. Whatever it is that helps you feel “snuggly” both literally and figuratively is what you should see to making room for in your own little world. (I love Brigid Schulte’s book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has the Time, and she does a great job of sharing what living a life with a hygge mindset can offer.)

ANYWAY…the bottom line is that scrambling through life may (or may not) get us somewhere, but…we will have sacrificed the journey in the process.

As is so often the case, I write from a place of need and not mastery. I want to be more disciplined in taking the time to establish my own fika and create my own hygge. I know I want and need to, but I still haven’t seen to it. Sigh.

If we could see “have fun” on the calendar and treat it with the same level of responsibility that we do “work” or whatever else is a non-negotiable that must get done…well then we’d see to it, wouldn’t we?

Maybe we should talk about this some more over a nice cup of coffee and a cookie?


All photos are my own or used with permission.
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