Hygge : lifestyle of the Nordic countries — and yours soon

In our lives — which have been disrupted by repeated lockdowns due to COVID-19 — we are all looking for comfort at home. Did you know that taking time off and creating a comforting space with candles and soft blankets in which we like to spend time, alone or accompanied, is a whole art in Scandinavian countries ? This fine art of finding time to take a break is called Hygge.

Enjoying your daily life

This word of Danish and Norwegian origins refers to a feeling of well-being, a cheerful mood and a warm and intimate atmosphere. Hygge is a positive state of mind provided by a moment considered comforting, pleasant and convivial. This philosophy of daily optimism originated in the Middle Ages. At the time, it meant to think. The meaning of the word then evolved to thoughtful [1, 2].

The author Meik Wiking has dedicated an entire book to it. Entitled The Little Book of Hygge : The Danish Way to Live Well (2016), it defines an insightful journey spiced with the taste of Danish Life. Meik Wiking is the one of today’s most influential happiness researchers, founder and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute and a highly respected speaker on such topics [3].

According to experts, in both 2013 & 2016, Denmark was the most successful country  in terms of happiness index. It is said that the Hygge way of life has something to do with it. Indeed, 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. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one or sharing comfort food with your closest friends [4]. With this ritual adopted daily by the Danes, we understand better why the inhabitants of this country are known to be the happiest in Europe, despite cold weather and short days.

How to make your life more Hygge

First of all, find the activity that triggers hyggelig. It could be lighting a candle, reading, cooking, or even just taking a nap. Then, you have to know that money doesn’t buy happiness – the cheaper, the Hygger. And finally, you have to remember that, at the end of the day, all we have left is love and solidarity. These three lessons are key in The Little Book of Hygge.

According to Meik Wiking,  the hygge manifesto consists in a ten point action plan to achieve everyday happiness. It calls for us to really be present in the moment & fully engage with life. By achieving physical comfort, allow  yourself a treat such as a coffee, chocolate, cake or anything that brings you pleasure. Being grateful with yourself and with others, building relationships in harmony and equality. The author would also prohibit phones: you have to be completely present in the little shelter that you have created to be a place of peace and security. This space allows you to make a truce in your busy life [6] .

Using some of the points on this manifesto is a good practical way to start appreciating what is around you and to feel happier as a result. Finally, what do you think about elevating your daily life with a little hygge ritual ? It’s up to you to choose and create your space in which you’ll like to be alone or accompanied, and which will bring you happiness. Trying is surely adopting it.

Alice CARLE

Cover : « Hygge » © Magalie Le Gall (cc)

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