As a Dane it has been a real positive experience and privilege to see how hygge has become a buzz word. It is found to be one of the reasons why the Danes are so happy and content, since it has lots of benefits: promote health, harmony, slows us down, connect us in a deeper way to everything and everyone around us.
The bad news is
- There is no short, concrete and quick explanation to hygge!
- And I can’t ‘teach’ hygge by just writing a blog. Since hygge is a life style, a way of living that takes more than reading a blog or a book to learn. It takes practise, commitment and WANT!
But here are the good news:
- Hygge is not something exclusively for the Danes – we just have a fancy funny word for it. No you are ALL doing it, but might not be aware of it and give it as much attention as we do.
- So you don’t have to get on a flight to DK to achieve hygge, you can do it right here and right now!
But why it is that the Scandinavian seem to do more hygge than other countries: Let’s start with that we have very long cold and dark winter months, often covered in deep snow and in the most Northern part there are only few hours of daylight.
And because this shortage of light in the long period of the year – we could easily think of this kind of winter as a dreadful and dull time.
But the Scandinavians have decided to capitalise on this, make it into a very special time that we look forward to, where we turn up the hygge by bringing on the light and warmth, that we don’t get from outside.
And we can’t say Hygge without thinking of candles – and they are very essential to the concept. The Danes burn the greatest number of candle lights a year, not to be eco-friendly – but because it means HYGGE.
Benefits of light:
- A way of bringing people together!
- Makes us feel happy, good and positive when exposed to light
- Light helps to make hygge intentional by creating the right light and atmosphere.
- I guess we can see it as a way of mentally survive the long, cold dark days – in order not to raise a nation of sad people
We seek the light like moths and that is where we end up ‘coming together’ – where there is light.
STEP 1 to hygge: ‘bring on the light’: the dark cold mornings, in your office or where loved one gets together or just when you are having a good time with yourself. Have a think about the light in your house? Office, hygge corner, dining table, bed room etc. it doesn’t take a lot just a few candles and a low hanging lamp!
Hygge is individual: Find your hygge in all the simple things. Is hygge getting together with people, have some nice food and coffee? Or is it reading a good book in the bath. Maybe it is a walk in the park or doing the thing that you like.
Then recognise it and grow it! Give these moments the time it needs. Hygge is everywhere, in the small SIMPLE things and pleasures – you just need to look for it and accept it.
It is all about simplicity (not only reserved for the ‘fire place moments’) – about enjoying the small but important moments and things in life that give us pleasure.
Have a good time with yourself: I love self-hygge – where I look after myself. Try at least twice a day to create a bit of self-hygge: sit in your hygge chair and read a book, magazine etc. bath. Walk. Anything that makes you content. Do it without guilt – when you are kind to yourself you are more likely to be kind to others!
STEP 2 to hygge: What gives you pleasure, makes you happy or content? Recognise it, accept it and own the moments!
Hygge makes the unbearable, bearable; Hygge is the intimacy you create, several times a day, on purpose in order to make life bearable or even very good. You can create hygge everywhere you want! I.e. that long car journey, missed the train, ‘taxi driving kids to school’, daily chores, doctor’s appointment, rainy days etc. Enjoy the moment with your kids, put on some music, talk to the person next to you, who knows maybe it is a new friend – make the unbearable, bearable!
STEP 3 to hygge: create hygge in EVERYTHING you do – look for opportunities and possibilities to create and achieve hygge
Name it: there is something intentional about the act of hygge and the trick lies in naming it. Don’t just DO it, SAY it. Because when we do – we make a point of turning something that could have otherwise been pretty average – maybe even a means to an end or an everyday boring task – into something special.
And when we’ve named it as that – our experience of it changes. It is the ultimate act of ‘reframing’ something. And the more you say IT, talk about IT, the easier it become to achieve IT and the more intentional it becomes. Until it become part of your everyday thinking, acting and language.
When we say out loud ‘how we want it to be’. ‘It WILL be Hyggeligt’. It helps us to feel more gratitude for everything we do in life – it reminds us of the goodness in the situation! And gratitude makes us happy and content
- Language shapes our behaviour & experience of life, makes us into who we are, happy or not! So feel free to use the word, adopt into your language so it become part of your way of thinking and
Say IT before, during and after a situation:
- Before a situation: ‘It will be so hyggeligt to see you’. This will help you to ‘warm up’ to how you want it to be – by doing so we make the act intentional.
- During: ‘it is so hyggeligt to..’ – we develop and create it in the moment, right now – live in the NOW, ground yourself to the moment!
- After: ‘it was really hyggeligt to..’, this helps you to prolong the moment – sum up an action and help you to remember it!
STEP 4 to hygge: name it – say it our loud when you are having a good time – make it part of your vocabulary so it become part of your every life and being! Say what you want to create from a maybe less pleasant situation ‘oh well, let’s make it into some really hyggeligt’. Sum up every day actions and situations by telling your kids how ‘hyggeligt it was to be with them’.
Slow down: You can’t do ‘hygge on the go’, in a rush, where you are not present! SLOW DOWN – be in the moment to what is important right now (no matter what it is)!
We are always on the go, when we have done one thing we are off to next or while we are doing it we are mentally already at next task. To truly hygge you need to SLOW down, try to do one thing at the time and enjoy it, place your full focus on what you are doing right now, who you are with right now. Stay connected to the moment, enjoy one thing/moment/person at the time without thinking of next.
STEP 5 to hygge: Allow yourself to slow down and leave what is not important to later. Create more hygge around what IS important; Your family, your home, friends, your hobby, sport etc. Being on the phone while you are with people is NOT very hyggeligt!
Space: Clutter is not good for your happiness and is not very hygeligt – hygge is the absent of mess (your mess). Danes love simplicity in their home with lots of space and only a few things that all add to hygge. Take a moment to look around your home! Does your home make you feel relaxed, happy and content? If not what do you need to take away and what hygge object do you need to replace them with? less mess leads to living a simple and happy life!
Hygge is Homemade and doesn’t come on its on, you cannot buy it! Once you have found it, named it – committed to it – live by it – make it a mindset and life style! A way of living and experience life – my husband call it the Nordic spirit (passed down through generation of practise). You can start this tradition and pass it on!
So to end with , the word hygge has been associated with it cosiness – but as you can read, it is more than that: it is a mindset, a state of CONSTANT well-being in everything we do, say and feel if we invite it in!
To read more about ‘how to parent like a Dane’