If you're looking to make a change in your life, you might want to consider the Danish lifestyle of hygge over any other. For good reason, Denmark is the third happiest country in the world according to the World Happiness Report for 2018. Maybe they're onto something? The relevant chart in the report starts on page 20, but there's a lot of other cool findings in there!
First, have you figured out the pronunciation yet? It's probably not what you're thinking if you've never heard it spoken out loud. It's actually HOO-guh. So now that you're saying it right in your head, back to what exactly is hygge?
Hygge is a Danish method of appreciating the little things in life without going out and buying new stuff or adopting new lifestyles. You don't need to uproot yourself to experience hygge; it could be anything that gives you peace in your day. Realistically, you can experience hygge anytime during the year but you'll probably have better luck during the fall and winter.
Do you like snuggling up in front of the fire with a cup of tea and a good book? Do you like to invite some friends over for dinner and drinks on a crisp fall day and catch up? Have you and your partner ever stayed in bed for a few extra hours enjoying each other's company? During these heartwarming moments, we can feel that our lives are a little brighter and we can sense a feeling of peace. That calming sensation that washes over you and makes you grateful for these moments is hygge. It's basically just the appreciation of special moment that brings comfort.
One of the first things you can do for yourself is to purchase your guide to hygge. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking is your how-to for living a hygge life and more information on what exactly it means. You probably also pronounced his name wrong if you're not familiar with Danish language Ws and Vs - it's actually pronounced just like Viking!
Wiking admits that it's tricky trying to explain what exactly hygge means since there have been several definitions throughout the years. However, he explains it as "an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It's about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down."
Here are some of the best tips for living a hygge lifestyle:
According to Wiking's book, 28 percent of Danes actually light candles every day, while 23 percent light candles either 4-6 days a week or 1-3 days a week. Only four percent of people never lit candles in their homes. They burn so much wax as a country, that Weiking said on the Freakonomics podcast that Danes burn more wax than any other country in Europe, twice as much wax as number 2 on the list (Austria).
So, he suggests that one of the first things you should do is light a candle. If you're unfamiliar with burning candles in the home or you're not particularly fond of them, try them out in just one room to see how it goes. Plenty of Danes have candles going in several rooms of the house. The gentle, warm lighting and the often comfortable and relaxing scents of candles really help to set the mood in your home right away.
But this doesn't mean you need to swap out your light bulbs for candles. Remember that this isn't about uprooting your lifestyle, which would make things more stressful and defeat the purpose of hygge. Try one first and see if you like it. And if you do start to burn more candles, be sure not to go overboard and pay attention to the health concerns of burning way too many candles.
Danes also like to make the atmosphere more soothing with lamps. Wiking suggests that the lower a lamp's color temperature, the more hygge you'll achieve. Again, this is something that you can try with one room. Instead of removing your bulbs, try and get a low-temperature lamp that you can use at night when you're reading or listening to music. Wiking says that the "hygge sweet spot" is 1,800 Kelvin.
Dressing comfortably is a huge part of hygge. Get your favorite pair of sweatpants out and a pair of snuggly socks before you curl up on the best seat in your house with a cup of tea or a good book. Hygge is all about experiencing the little things that make you happy at home and if dressing down and unwinding makes you happy, then you're already halfway there.
Another big part of hygge is indulging in some of the things you have been told to avoid, particularly with food. There's nothing wrong with grabbing those few squares of chocolate, munching on a few cookies, or making yourself a good cup of cocoa. It's not something you should be doing all the time, obviously, but hygge encourages you to give yourself the little things that make you happy from time to time.
Hygge isn't all about ignoring the world and only treating yourself. We all need social interaction and who couldn't use another excuse to spend time with family and friends? If you and your friends are free during the week, invite them over for dinner and drinks. Do other things that make you collectively happy like going for a good walk (even in cooler weather) or have a picnic in the park. Hygge is about being with the people you love!
We've heard the tales for years now: constantly looking at your phones and laptops is bad for you. While it might be annoying to hear over and over, there is some merit to it. Let go of your devices for even just a few hours a day. This will help you unplug from all the negativity that comes with social media and take in the things that make you feel good. If you HAVE to use a device, to stick with the advice from using low color temperature lamps, you could also use "night light" settings on your phone which tints your screen orange, or install on your computer a program like flux, which is a free program to tint your computer screen orange at night.
According to Wiking, Christmas is one of the best times to live a good hygge life. It also doesn't take a professional to tell you that there's just something about the holiday season that brings out the best in us (when we're not scrambling to find presents or shovel the driveways). But the aesthetic of the holidays, the good food, the cozy clothing, and the time to spend with friends are all things hygge encourages.
While it's true that cooler weather and Christmas, in particular, are the best time for hygge, that doesn't mean the warmer months should be ignored. Hygge is something that can be enjoyed in the spring and summer with simple activities like enjoying picnics in the park, having outdoor movie nights or going to a drive-in theatre, or eating dinner outside. Even going for nice walks in the warmer weather or finding cool hiking trails will put you more in touch with nature and teach you how to appreciate the little things.
While all these things sound like a surefire way to live your best comfortable life, there are some things to keep in mind.
Don't take things to the extreme. An article posted in The Guardian talked more in-depth about this. This is obviously something you'd want to avoid. You shouldn't live your life to the utmost comfort without caring about anything else around you. Hygge is meant to help you relax and create safe spaces in the home, not turn your back on the world.
Charlotte Higgins also penned an in-depth piece for The Guardian talking about the darker side of the lifestyle and how, for some, it promotes shutting up emotions and feelings and focussing mainly on trying to adopt hygge. She also mentioned in her piece how Wiking himself wrote that hygge might seem isolating to certain foreigners, especially because there is more to hygge than someone would ever know about from reading a few articles about it.
It's also not about buying a ton of new stuff. Some companies might push to sell items that are considered hygge-friendly, but you shouldn't be emptying your wallet to cater to this lifestyle.
If you think that a hygge life is something you'd be interested in then you should go for it. Don't lose sight of the more important things in your life and surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Unplug every once in a while, light a candle, throw on some sweats, and watch the snow fall. Or invite friends over and have a good conversation over equally good food.
Avoid getting sucked into a hardcore turn on your life and the things you're accustomed to. Live life a little more comfortably and take time to appreciate the special moments in your life. These are the first steps to experiencing hygge.
The hygge life has been around since the 1800s and it's said that it was created to appreciate the little things but also to combat the boredom faced back in the day. In a dark and cold country, you either need to focus on the things that make you happy or succumb to the meager surroundings.
Since then things have obviously improved but that hasn't stopped people from living their best hygge life. Adopting this kind of lifestyle is different from others because it doesn't require you purchasing new things to somehow fit with your new belief system. It also doesn't require you to make significant changes to how you already live, instead, you're encouraged to do more things that make you feel at peace and offer comfort. Who can deny that's a good philosophy