This Danish word (pronounced ‘hooga’) has been hot on the lips of many a wellness expert since its rise to popularity in the UK and elsewhere a year or two ago. If you’re new to hygge, the easiest way to describe it is a combination of several things: cosy; comfortable in your environment; a sense of belonging; and deep happiness with loved ones. Could you do with more of that?
It’s no coincidence that hygge is such a Danish phenomenon. The United Nations’ World Happiness Report ranked Denmark as the happiest country in the world in 2012, 2013 and 2016. The main reasons for Danish happiness are believed to be: high levels of trust in one another; a welfare state that provides a strong feeling of security; national prosperity; well-established democratic rights; and an excellent work-life balance.
We may have a way to go before we shoot to the top of the happiness polls, but meanwhile there’s no harm in taking inspiration from the Danes.
How to be hygge
To start with you’ll need a humble outlook which doesn’t involve buying countless material goods in order to be happy. It’s more a matter of clean, uncluttered spaces filled with a sense of serenity and calm. Meik Wiking, author of “The Little Book of Hygge”, says: “Danes are aware of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing. After our basic needs are met, more money doesn’t lead to more happiness and, instead, Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.”
Here are some hygge things you can do:
- Enjoy candle lit evenings – Swap electric lighting in favour of candles to invite in warmth and romance – you’ll feel the happiness.
- Get cosy at home – Soft, chunky, fluffy cushions, faux fur throws and soft sheepskin rugs all bring that ‘snuggle up’ feel to any room. Combine them with a log fire or candlelight to experience the ultimate in hygge.
- Bake more – Home baking and having friends round for tea and recently cooled scones are perfect ways to warm your heart.
- Get out on your bicycle – The Danes are a nation of cyclists – so much so that most people cycle to work each day. The exercise releases dopamine, the happy hormone, as well as being good for your general health and wellbeing.
- Leave work on time – The Danes greatly value family time so you won’t find many of them staying on late at the office. The typical Danish working day is 8am-4pm, after which they head straight home.
- Eat porridge – Tea and porridge are essentials when it comes to hygge. The Danes don’t just have it for breakfast, they enjoy it for dinner too!
You’ll see that being hygge is easy to master and is not too different from many aspects of British daily life. Simply keep up your consumption of tea and porridge; bake cakes; take pleasure in the simple things in life and you’ll be halfway there!