Following my visit to Copenhagen, I have fallen in love with their way of life. Being dubbed the happiest country in the world is a testament to their traditions, and it seems all good things come from Denmark. All yummy things to be exact. The Danish word Hygge is one that I’ve been searching for the whole of my life; it has given me the reason to be a little more self-indulgent and not feel ashamed about it either!
My friends used to think that I was a bit of a party pooper when I wanted to stay in for the night. Don’t get me wrong, drinking into the small hours was fun occasionally. However, I would prefer to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. To some that might be hell on earth but to me it was pure heaven. Hygge has given me the excuse to revel in what makes me happy.
I’ve been hygge-ing for a month or so now and can honestly say that you do notice the difference. I feel more content in general; even those Monday mornings don’t make me feel blue anymore.
Over the past month, I have been busy on a little project. I’ve been trying to make our dull and wasted spare bedroom into my little hygge heaven. Initially, it was going to be my reading room with a big comfy chair that I could snuggle up in with a good book; then I heard the concept of hygge. So the reading chair turned into a reading bed. Not only is this going to be a cosy retreat for myself but our guests too. The project is still working progress but coming along nicely. I will be sure to give you a full update as soon as I’ve completed the room.
What is HYGGE?
Now, this is a tricky question to answer. Hygge is a word that cannot be translated into English as such because hygge is more of a feeling, the closest word that can describe this ‘feeling’ is cosiness. Hygge is about creating a warm and safe atmosphere; an at home feeling. You may experience this returning home after being away for a long time. I know I have.
I have a print out of the manifesto stuck to our fridge door as a little reminder of what hygge is all about. I particularly like the switching off from your digital life and live in the here and now. Although this is hard sometimes, I feel that I am getting better at not constantly flicking through my phone. My lack of digital presence is something my friends are still getting used to; you will get a reply eventually, just not an immediate one.
In Denmark lighting is a problem due to the lack of natural daylight during winter. Light is essential for good well-being, and how the Danes get around this is by supplementing with candles.
The Danes go through a staggering amount of candles, and you’ve guessed it they’re mostly used during winter. There is something about candlelight that makes things so cosy. Maybe it’s the relaxing flicker of the flame and the soft yellow glow that makes you feel safe and warm inside. Or maybe it’s an innate thing that goes all the way back to our caveman selves using fire for protection and warmth.
One thing that the Danes have is a massive sweet tooth. That is what appeals to me most about hygge because I have a major sweet tooth too. The rule is that you should indulge in something that you love and makes you happy. Forget these diets that tell you shouldn’t have any naughty treats. For one-day go ahead and treat yourself. You’ll feel so much better about it. Of course, I’m not promoting that you eat your feelings, but just a little every now and again never hurt anyone.
There is nothing more hygge than being curled up in a throw on a comfy sofa, next to an open fire with a cup of tea or coffee. Preferably it would be raining outside too.
The Danes are obsessed with interior design, and this shows in most of the Danish homes. The home to a Dane is the social hub, and therefore they spend a considerable amount of money in making their house feel like a home. A typical hygge home would have numerous fur throws, a comfy and cosy area known as a hyggekrog, candles and many natural objects; bringing the outdoors inside.
There is one thing that the Danes hate and that is bragging. They find that being more modest is a far better quality to have, after all, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone else. Life is not about being in competition with one another; it’s about learning to treat people with respect and to help where you can. We’re all guilty of bragging unintentionally, but hygge is about being mindful when around people. By all means, tell people what you’re doing in life, but try to keep the how much things cost or the look at what I’ve got persona at bay. I think this could be a lesson for most people.
Hygge is for everyone, and it’s so easy to make those small changes to benefit your life. I would suggest that if you’re feeling a little stress at work or unable to focus on things in life then why not try being more hygge, what have you got to lose? In summary, hygge is probably the best lifestyle that’s out there, and for the time being, it is working for me.
Jamie Carter | @mrjamiecarter