So, what’s all the hype about Hygge? Recently there has been an influx of articles and books published on the subject of hygge, which is a Danish word pronounced ‘hoo-ga’. It can be roughly translated into English as cosiness or comfort. Earlier this year I read a book by Helen Russell called ‘A Year of Living Danishly – Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country’. Helen’s book is part memoir, part exploration of why Denmark is in fact the happiest nation on earth. It explored the social structure, mind set and opportunities of the Danish people and one chapter was devoted to the idea of Hygge.
As a lover of all things slow and simple I was intrigued by the concept and decided to explore further. I went to my local library and borrowed everything they had on hygge, which consisted of these three recently published books:
- The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
- The Book of Hygge – the Danish Art of Living Well by Louisa Thomsen Brits
- The Art of Hygge – How to Bring Danish Cosiness into Your Life by Jonny Jackson & Elias Larsen
Living in the sub-tropics, as opposed to Denmark with it’s long cold winters, I wasn’t sure if hygge could be relevant at all, but I soon realised that it’s more about a mood or feeling rather than any rigid rules. In her book, Louisa Thomsen Brits breaks it down into six broad areas which are belonging, shelter, comfort, wellbeing, simplicity and observance. Ultimately it’s about creating space in your life (usually in your home) where you can feel comfortable, relaxed, supported, and enjoy the moment you’re in. It is believed that by creating a sense of hygge, your chances of experiencing happiness are increased. And as research shows that the Danes are in fact the happiest people on earth, I’m inclined to think they may be on to something.
Our homes can provide us with a sanctuary from the chaos of the world and so it makes sense to create a space that is cosy, or when living in warmer climates, comfortable. A place where you can forget the worries of the world, wind down and enjoy time with friends, family or on your own. A place for contemplation, reflection and regeneration.
So what can you do to bring a bit of hygge into your life? Try these simple tips for starters:
- Create a home sanctuary. Use colours that make you feel happy, candles, essential oils, fresh air and comfortable furnishings. Relax. Allow yourself to really feel ‘at home’ in your space.
- Be in the moment. Switch off your screens, talk to loved ones, read a book, enjoy your surroundings.
- Make time to build relationships. Enjoy dinner around the table, talk about your day. Listen to the people you care about, let them share their stories with you.
- Remove things that cause anxiety or prevent you from relaxing. Clear out clutter, finish unfinished jobs, clear your space and clear your mind.
- Treat yourself. Candlelit dinners, rich chocolate cake, soaking in a warm bath with candles, sleeping out on the back deck in the moonlight, family movie nights. Create memories doing things you love.
- Be grateful. Appreciate what you have, contemplate the beautiful things around you. Gaze at the stars. Be thankful for those you love. Smile.
So is hygge just another fad? Maybe. But like all things that become popular, there is often something at the heart of the idea that is worth paying some attention to. At the very least, hygge encourages us to live in the moment by creating spaces that allow us to feel comfortable and content. And if this can be achieved by slowing down, simplifying our spaces and appreciating what we have in our lives, then it sounds pretty good to me.