Over the last few years we’ve heard a lot about the hygge way of living — the creation of a cozy content feeling — championed by the Danes. While this convivial way of living is very appealing, there’s another concept that comes from further afield in the Indian state of Goa, and it seems perfect for those who need reminding about what’s truly important in life.
The notion of susegad stems from the Portuguese word, sossegado, which means “quiet.” It doesn’t literally mean that you live in total silence; it’s more the “innate realization that you cannot and should not fight the small things of life,” according to Perry Goes, a Goan interviewed for the BBC.
If you adopt this approach to life you’ll have greater peace of mind while soaking up the beauty of what life has to offer. As Goan journalist Joanna Lobo shared: “It’s a Sunday spent with the family, relaxing after a filling lunch of rice, fish and vegetables … It’s that feeling of relaxation, of feeling content with life, of being loved.”
Some people have misunderstood the true meaning of susegad, believing it to be a laid-back approach to life that is synonymous with laziness — maybe because Goans take the afternoon, between 1 and 5 p.m., to stop work and relax due to the high temperatures before life picks up in the evening. Yet, as Lobo is keen to highlight, “It is not sloth or laziness. It is deciding on what to fight for and what to give up on, and having the sense to decide between the two.”
Perhaps part of this attitude stems from the state’s rich Portuguese Catholic influence. With Jesuits landing in the idyllic, beachy spot in 1510, the majority of inhabitants not only adopted the Catholic faith, but the Portuguese language and culture. While the regular siesta was a must in a state that sees temperatures regularly climb into the 90 plus degrees Fahrenheit mark, the susegad was more of an extension of this practice to find a perfect work-life balance and ultimately contentment.
Now home to 1.5 million inhabitants — 85% Christian, predominantly Catholic, and the remaining 15% Hindu — the flourishing island sees communities bond together, helping each other out, with no sense of one-upmanship. It seems that it’s all part of the susegad experience.
Of course it might be tricky to carve out a four-hour break in your day, but perhaps you could start by letting go of all those small irritations life throws at you. Does your home truly have to be spic and span before you have guests visit? If you’re exhausted, take time out to breathe and pray, and appreciate what’s really important in your life.