How to get Hygge and get Happy September 28 2016
Have you heard about the Danish way of living called 'hygge'? We've been hearing a lot about it in recent weeks as the world of publishing embraces the trend this autumn with a plethora of books on the subject hitting bookshop shelves and landing online.
So what is this magic ingredient called hygge? First off it's pronounced 'hoo-gah' and is a quintessentially Danish way of life, encompassing such elements as cosiness, warm atmospheres, spending time together and enjoying the simple things in life like good food. Blogger Anna Lea West distils it down to the "cosiness of the soul".
And with Denmark regularly scoring highly in the ranks of the world's happiest countries they seem to be on to a good thing.
Emily Robertson at Penguin books, who is publishing a book by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, entitled The Little Book of Hygge, certainly thinks so. "Hygge is about embracing things – enjoying cake, not checking work emails all weekend, spending time with friends and family. It’s about the simple, small pleasures that make life great, which perhaps sometimes pass us by."
Expert on hygge, Meik, says, "Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight..."
Ten ways to get Hygge and get Happy
Start the day off with a wholesome bowl of porridge. Warm, filling and slow releasing natural sugars throughout the morning, porridge exemplifies a whole bowlful of hygge! Check out this selection of healthy porridge recipes for more inspiration.
Schedule some sofa time with your family. Grab some snug blankets and wrap them around yourselves and settle back to watch a season Scandi noir (yes, it's allowed!)
Get together. For Danes, notions of hygge are bound up with the idea of social wellness. That can mean something as easy as gathering family or friends together around a table to eat good food and share conversation. The simple things. At the end of the night your guests will offer a cheery "hyggeligt" - the adjectival form of hygge.
Bring natural materials into your home. Think about using reclaimed wood in different spaces, perhaps cladding for a bathroom wall, or a reclaimed wood dining table at the heart of the home in the kitchen. Stoneware, sheepskin, will all give your home that essential Scandi feel.
And it's official, as scientists at University College London found that looking at beautiful things makes us happier by stimulating production of dopamine.
Get a dog and go for long family walks in the fresh air, exploring the countryside, coast or parks. The Danes like nothing better than a bracing walk in the elements, wrapped in scarfs and woollies, so follow suit and feel reinvigorated.
Switch off and wind down. In the evening and at weekends, making a determined effort to wrench yourself away from social networks and checking emails. Instead make time for face-to-face conversations.
Read a book (preferably by candlelight). Some of the most notable titles on hygge currently out there include:
Helen Russell's The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country. Helen says, "Hygge seems to me to be about being kind to yourself - indulging, having a nice time, not punishing or denying yourself anything."
Candlelight is hygge; the smell of freshly brewed coffee is hygge; the feel of crisp, clean bed linen is hygge; dinner with friends is hygge - says Charlottee Abrahams in her Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures. Living the Danish Way
As CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen Meik Wiking knows a thing or two about hygge and his book, The Little Book of Hygge is an essential resource for bringing some hygge to your home.
Make an al fresco breakfast over a camping stove - even in the depths of winter. Heading for a cookout in the forest, on the beach or even in your garden is a great hygge way to start the day. Keep it simple, perhaps with some rashers of bacon, fried eggs, mushrooms and fresh crusty rolls. Hyggelicious!
Watch this short video from the team at Visit Denmark who chat to the denizens of Copenhagen and find out how they get their daily hygge hit