Recently I finished reading a wonderful book that was a pleasure to read from beginning to end. Why? Because it made me feel so happy, so hopeful, so inspired and dare I even use the word glow?
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking is an insight into the lives of the Danish people, specifically, why they have topped the happiest country in the world survey more than any other country. What makes them tick? Why are their lives so joyous? What are the rest of us just not getting?
The answer may lie in the concept that surrounds their lives, their upbringing, their culture – Hygge.
Hygge (prounounced as hoo-ga) doesn’t have an English translation in a single word. It’s a state of being, a way to live your life, a theme if you will, to use throughout your days to highlight the joy in your life – no matter who you are or what you are doing.
Hygge will mean different things to different people. They will have different ways of celebrating it or bringing it into their every day life – which, of course, makes trying to explain it you all very difficult!
So, after reading this book, I have decided to talk to you all about hygge by pulling out what I was drawn to the most. What made me feel the ‘glow’! The Danes don’t keep this as a secret to a happy life, more they simply don’t shout about it from the rooftops… that would be very un-hygge-like!
So what does hygge mean to me?
How many of you feel at ease when you are comfortable? Comfort and cosiness is hygge – a warm blanket, a chair filled with cushions, a fireplace or room glowing with candles. That big deep breath and sigh you have when you sit down on your favourite chair, complete with a mug of coffee (or glass of wine), a good book and a free afternoon.
Comfort also extends into other areas of life – flexible working hours, family time, hearty, healthy and nourishing foods, clothing – although some of these may be harder for us all to implement.
Wellness to me is knowing what is good for you and implementing it into your life. This is what the Danes do… but not maybe as you would necessarily expect. Wellness of course is eating well, getting exercise daily (Danes really do cycle everywhere!), spending time with those you love and not allowing the general stresses of life to affect them greatly but wellness is also about knowing what is good for the soul. A mid-day coffee and cake break. A glass of wine with dinner. Maybe we would know it better as ‘treat yo self’?! But Danes also know where to draw the line!
A sense of calm
Calm. Just saying that word alone makes me stop, take a big breath and relax a little bit more. The Danish life is surrounded by a sense of calm. Family life is treasured and seen as a priority. Folk work less and don’t allow themselves to be stressed by the pressures of daily life. They surround themselves with the people they love and spend as much time with them as possible. Hygge is calm because it’s easy. It’s comfortable because it’s natural. Rest and restore aren’t necessarily a priority because they are simply life.
Like comfort, warmth is a cosiness. It’s a feeling we can seek, gain and give out. Christmas is a great example that I like to use to explain warmth. The trees, the hot drinks, the celebratory food, the smiles, the dancing, gifting, the excitement, the time spent with family and friends. It’s a warm glow that surrounds us all during the month of December (if we allow it and embrace it as the Danes do).
As you may have noticed from above, family and friends are mentioned so often during this post and that is no coincidence. Hygge is that feeling you gain from being surrounded by a community. That glow you have inside when you are surrounded by the ones you love and you can’t help but feel happy and content. Your community may be big or small but you love to spend time together and grow together. The events may be big or small but they are a great way to come together, eat some good food that you have all prepared, smile, laugh and enjoy.
Hygge surrounds the Danes life on so many levels and anyone who reads this book will be drawn to a variety of different aspects and comparisons on their own lives. I was proud that many of the things I already do were hygge-lit but I was inspired by so many more. Hygge isn’t about picking things out to do and forcing those around you to do them, it’s about allowing it to be natural. I know so many of you out there would adore this book and who knows, you may find yourself being more hygge without even knowing it. You just have to be open enough to let it in.
Have you heard about hygge?
What sense of being makes you feel the most happy?
Describe a comfortable, cosy surrounding for you?