What Hygge is and how to do it
Why is Denmark the happiest country in the world? Not the easiest or simplest questions to answer. So we won’t try to do so in full. What we will do is to introduce you to a concept that is an important factor for the level of happiness in Denmark. Several books on the subject are out on the bookshelves in the US and the rest of the world and unless you’ve been living under a rock lately you’re probably somewhat familiar with it already. We are of course talking about the unique Danish concept ”hygge”. Pronounced “hoogah”.
The concept hygge is pretty difficult to grasp as it has to do with both physical things and surroundings and a mental and emotional state of mind. Plus, it doesn’t really translate directly into other languages. The closest you’ll get is “cosiness” and “well-being”. However, it is not the lack of a direct translation that makes hygge a unique Danish concept. Not if you ask Danish happiness scientist and author of bestselling book “The little book of Hygge” Meik Wiking.
In an interview with Berlingske (Danish newspaper) he says, “It is the conscious part about to hygge that is uniquely danish. The fact that Danes see it as a value in it self. The fact that we view it as a part of Danish culture. The Danes probably estimate hygge in the same way Americans estimate freedom.”
We’ll take you through exactly what hygge is, but also, and more importantly, exactly how you can get a little more conscious about creating hygge in your life and your home. In short, here’s the recipe for hygge and the hygge starter-kit.
Hygge is something you feel. It’s inner cosiness, a feeling of life quality.
Hygge is about warmth and companionship.
Hygge makes you warm in your heart.
Hygge is human made happiness.
Hygge is about the small things in life.
Hygge is the Nordic secret to a happy life.
Hygge is about having a nice and relaxing time with yourself, your loved ones – family or friends. It’s about creating intimacy. Hygge is often connected with having something to eat and drink. Candlelights are often used to encourage “hygge”. If it’s cold outside you need a blanket, something hot to drink and a cozy fireplace, if you are lucky enough to have one. And of course a woollen sweater and warm socks.
Hygge is about getting comfortable and spoiling yourself. In Scandinavia we have long winters and many, many dark hours and as a result of that, we spend more time indoors. This makes us more attentive to creating home interiors that are comfortable and calls for relaxation. Especially, in the winter time, we simply need something extra to make us well and content in our homes. Lighting is an important factor when creating a hyggelig atmosphere. Sharp and bright lights won’t do. Soft and dimmed lights on the other hand are perfect for hygge-time and candlelights aligns perfectly with the concept of hygge.
Come summer time hygge can be getting together with friends and family in the outdoors, having a barbecue at the beach or in the garden, going on a picnic with a basket packed with goodies, biking throug the landscape or going to a festival. Scandis are blessed with a prolonged light of day in the summer time, but the long and beautiful Scandinavian summer nights do not change our need of hygge, it just changes the way we do hygge.
Hygge is sitting in your favorite chair by yourself, under a blanket, reading a book and having a wonderful and cosy time. Or having a nice cup of tea with your family while baking a cake for you to munch on later. Hygge is in the small things that comforts us and make us feel at home.
Hygge is about making comfortzones, where you can feel safe and forget about the world around. In Denmark this is often done consciously by creating spaces filled with soft cushions and throws, warm blankets, dimmed lights and candlelights. Hygge is comfort, togetherness and well-being.
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