January 4, 2020

Fika

As I was looking back on my calendar for the past few years, I rediscovered an event on my calendar:

Fika (Ryan+Tim)

Tim had just gotten back from living in Sweden for a few months, and he had become enamoured with this Swedish idea of a fika.

SwedishFood.com has a description of the word that I just can’t beat:

The word fika actually derives from the 19th-century slang word for coffee: kaffi. Invert the word kaffi, and you get fika. Fika is often translated as a coffee and cake break”, which is kind of correct, but really it is much more than that.

Fika is a concept, a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. Many Swedes consider that it is almost essential to make time for fika every day. It means making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a little something to eat.

Fika cannot be experienced at your desk by yourself. That would just be taking coffee and cake.

Fika is a ritual. Even the mighty Volvo plant stops for fika. All Swedes consider it important to make time to stop and socialise: to take a pause. It refreshes the brain and strengthens relationships. And it makes good business sense: firms have better teams and are more productive where fika is institutionalised.

Fika can be a verb. Swedes will say to each other, Let’s go and fika!” or You and I fika together so well”.

Exactly what you eat during fika is not really important. The food is incidental to the companionship, the socialising and catching up with friends and colleagues. But whatever food you choose for fika it should be fresh and well presented. Ideally it should be homemade. Many team leaders in Sweden consider it important to regularly bake something at home to take into work for fika.

Often fika is enjoyed by candlelight, even if it is in an office or the corner of a factory. It’s all about slowing down and finding time for friends and colleagues, whilst you sip a drink and enjoy something small to eat. Candlelight helps!

Make sure you are never too busy for fika

Wherever you live, give fika a try in your daily schedule. You can never be too busy for fika!

The thing that I love about so many of my friends is that they are present. The people I’ve grown to value the most in life are the ones who seem hyper-involved in the moments that they are with you.

I love the intimate moments with friends where you learn about their dreams and struggles and values. I think it’s been too easy in my last few busy months to lose touch with friends. In some sense, I’ve even lost touch with a few friends that I see somewhat regularly; we talk, but we don’t really catch up.

I went through a weird exercise over the past few days. I made a list of all of the people I interact with, and then I divided them into tiers. There’s people in my life who I don’t ever want to lose touch with, some that are fairly good companions, and some that are newer presences in my life but I’d like to get know better. I think we all have these groups of people floating through our life, but without really putting concrete labels on it, it’s hard to really be intentional about your time. It’s common to hear people lose touch with loved ones; wouldn’t it be so much easier if you consciously knew who your top ten friends were, so that you made sure you never weren’t available for those you love the most?

I have a bunch of photos on the wall of my room. It’s become so normal to have them there that I don’t even regularly look at them all. But recently I gave them all a closer look. Ah, this person! I thought to myself, we haven’t talked in months! But the whole reason I put their face on my wall is because I consider them one of my closest friends. Where did my actions fail to keep up with my priorities?

I don’t want to passively make these kinds of mistakes. I want to be proactive about who I love spending time with, and make sure I’m present in their lives.

I want a little more fika in my life. A little more quality time, a little more depth and consistency in the relationships I know I value. If I reach out to say hello, don’t be surprised (candlelight optional.)


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