Autumn and Winter have always been my favourite seasons of the year. I like it when the days get shorter and colder. Maybe it’s because I so easily feel too warm in the summer and layering up is so simple. I particularly like a Friday night like tonight on the sofa with a cup of tea. It’s about switching off and living in the moment. And also about Hygge – something everyone seems to talk about at the moment.
Do you know what Hygge is? It’s a Danish way of life. Hygge is not foreign to me at all, it is close in some ways to the German concept of Gemütlichkeit (cosiness). While it is a very individual thing, there are certain aspects that seem to be a trend. Dimmed lights or candles, being present, enjoying good food, dressing comfortably and being at ease around the people you are with – just to name a few.
The Little Book of Hygge
A number of books have recently been published on Hygge. I picked up a copy of The Little Book of Hygge for myself. The cover totally got me (obviously) but I particularly liked that the author Mike Wiking studies happiness. He is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute. Wiking wants to find out why Denmark always scores so high for happiness in international rankings and believes that Hygge may actually be the clue!
The key really is in the simplicity. A hyggelig time can be eating meals that you like while switching off your mobile phones to be free of distraction. It is often rustic with candle lights. Look at a Danish apartment and you are likely to find great lighting, natural wood, simple colours and cosy throws. Listen to their conversations and you will hear them talk about Hygge all the time.
In essence, this is what you’ll find in the book – simple recipes for a happy life. If you are interested, I highly recommend you do some further reading on Happiness – I found this introduction to the same book and the work of the Happiness Institute very interesting. They look at global effects of happiness and how whole populations can be happier. Absolutely fascinating! On a less overwhelming scale I still absolutely love The Happiness Project.
Also as I said, there is a good selection of books on the topic – some make beautiful coffee table books or even Christmas gifts. Check out The book of Hygge by Louisa Thomsen Brits or Hygge by Marie Tourell Søderberg for example. These are especially nice!
Little Ways to be More Hygge
At the end of the work day, I make it a point to fully relax. Work-life balance is extremely important to me. That’s why I’ve decorated our home to feel welcoming and comfortable. I try to keep things where they belong to minimise distraction. I also keep things I love around: books, candles, healthy snacks,… . Here are a few more ways to be more Hygge:
- Relationships: Surround yourself with people dear to you: your family and your closest friends.
- Eat & Drink: Indulge in foods and drinks that taste good. At this time of the year, I like hearty soups and stews. I also love nothing more than curling up with a cup of tea.
- Simplicity: Try to appreciate the little things, stay in the moment, single task, relax, turn off your devices, read a book.
- Comfort: Be comfortable inside and out. Dress in soft clothes, make sure you are warm enough, try to relieve any pains.
- Smile: One of my favourite Danish people – the athlete Michelle Vesterby – always smiles. It’s her strongest weapon and it is so infectious!
Let me know what your key to happiness is in the comments section!