Doesn’t most of the stress of life come from loneliness, low social interaction and lack of a support system? And maybe exercise?

The Icelanders have figured a fun way way of handling all of these – “Sundlaugs”

“Sundlaugs” are geothermally heated public pools across Iceland. There are 120+ of them with each town having one. The New York Times Magazine argues that these are a key reason for Icelandic happiness and well-being.

The pools are a place where people can swim, but they also offer a shared public space where people gather to meet others and discuss current affairs or spend time in introspective relaxation… They serve as the communal heart of Iceland. Families and teenagers and older people lounge and chat in sundlaugs every day, summer or winter. Despite Iceland’s cruel climate, its remoteness and its winters of 19 hours of darkness per day, its rainy, cold and short summers, the people there are among the most contented in the world.

Icelanders’ remarkable satisfaction is tied inextricably to the experience of escaping the fierce, freezing air and sinking into warm water among their countrymen.

Because of the weather, Iceland does not have piazzas like the Italian or French do and beer was banned in Iceland till 1989, so they don’t have the pub tradition of England or Ireland. The pool is Iceland’s social space: where families meet neighbors, where newcomers first receive welcome, where rivals can’t avoid one another…

Hot isn’t it?

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