Can building walls make you feel safer? In Sweden, yes!

Contrary to popular belief,  Sweden was not always the best place to live in. Back in the late 19th and early 20th century, thousands of Swedes fled the country in search of a better place, with cheaper farmland and more freedom. Times were still challenging in the 1960s when there was a huge housing crisis in the country. What the Swedish state did as a response to all these challenges was to try to boost the feeling of security of its citizens. They knew that otherwise (as history had already proven multiple times) social unrest could tear apart the society and lead to the birth of extreme movements. They built houses for the people. Social welfare programmes too. It was all part of the Swedish “trygghet”.
Make love, not war!
Actually, the concept of trygghet includes much more than just security reinforced by more police and army. The word can’t have a direct translation into English (no kidding!). It means security, safety and comfort. It includes a sense of belonging and freedom from fear, anxiety and danger. Or we can simply describe it as the feeling that you and the people you care about are cared for, therefore they can dream and plan for their own future.Such is the power of this word in Sweden that retail giant IKEA decided to name the first aid box it sells in its stores “Trygghet”!

Is trygghet the key to happiness?
There is a lot of debate, whether it is good to have everything taken care of for you by the state or not. Does this make people lazy or indifferent? Do they take everything for granted? Social research shows that being happy is one thing and not being unhappy is another thing. The latter can lead to happiness. If you feel safe and confident that your basic needs are taken care of and chances of extreme discomfort or misery diminish, this can lead to a happier life. They say this is the key to the Nordic happiness. It doesn’t mean everybody is carefree and laughing all year round. But when the going gets tough, the tough (i.e. state and society) get going. Time for a hug!