Hygge is the secret to happiness, the magic ingredient which makes Denmark the happiest nation in the world. Pronounced as hue-guh or hoo-gah, hygge is a Danish word that lacks a literal English translation and a proper explanation. It is a coveted way of living and before you call it an over-hyped trend, there are some hard-to-ignore facts. The Danes boast the happiest workforce in the world, with 52 weeks of parental leave, and are well aware of the decoupling between wealth and well-being. After our basic needs are met, more wealth doesn’t necessarily equate to more happiness and the Danes are great at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.
Hygge can be loosely translated as a state of cosiness and wellness, or taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing stuff. Hygge is akin to a hug, without the physical touch. You’ll know hygge when you feel it, but some of the key ingredients are comfort, presence, indulgence, relaxation and togetherness. Applicable to any time and space, the concept of hygge traverses winter and summer but the idea really comes alive in the harsh winters that Denmark is renowned for. It is in these winters and cold weathers that the Danes remain the world’s happiest people, even when it is the time of the year that almost everyone should be feeling down.
Interested to find out more? Here are 8 ways to hygge your life up, and it’s all about chocolates, comfort and candles…
1. Lighten up
To hygge, it’s crucial to pay attention to lighting and to create a sanctuary for yourself. Rumoured as one of the largest consumers of candles in the world per capita, the Danes burn more candles than anyone else.
Collapse onto plush cushions and cuddly blankets with warm, cosy lighting all around you. Get instant hygge by lighting candles as the warming glow of a flickering flame creates an intimate atmosphere. Also, candles are an antidote to harsh strip lights and spotlights, which are now common in offices and homes. Arrange candles of different sizes and shapes in clusters so that they form pools of light around your space. Light scented ones for extra oomph but of course, cheap tea lights will do the trick as well.
2. Make a hygge treat
Think rustic, slow, wholesome food. Think cookies, pastries, loaves of warm bread and mugs of creamy hot chocolate. Go even more hygge and make these delicious treats with your loved ones. We’d recommend a cook-out where everyone gathers to cook together because that maximises the hygge factor and guarantees a relaxed, informal evening. Below is also a wonderful, old-fashioned recipe for hot chocolate:
1 litre full-fat milk
100g brown sugar (omit if desired)
100g cocoa powder
150ml crème fraiche
2 teasponns of vanilla extract
Heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and crème fraiche. Return the mixture to a low heat and bring it to a simmer while stirring continuously. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture is thickened then add in the vanilla extract and whisk till frothy. Following so, pour into mugs and enjoy together!
3. Learn a craft
Get down to the knitty gritty because knitting is super hygge. The slow and steady rhythm is relaxing and could help you focus in a laid-back style. But if knitting is not your pastime, learn another craft or practice an old hobby. In general, crafts are super hygge as it gives you a chance to slow down and create something handmade.
4. Stock a self-care emergency kit
Had a rough day? It might be nice to come home to a self-created emergency kit that contains comfort items such as chocolate, sweets, organic herbal tea, a soft cotton blanket, comfortable lounge wear and a good book. Throw in anything that will allow you to unwind mindfully in total bliss.
5. Practise gratitude & celebrate simplicity
Hygge and gratitude go together because it’s all about savouring the simple pleasures in life that can be achieved on a shoestring budget. Be thankful for the little things, such as beautiful weather or a good cup of tea, as research has shown that those who give thanks are happier, more helpful and understanding. In the land of hygge, it’s also about celebrating pure simplicity – a way of being, not an acquired lifestyle. Don’t worry if your time or budget is limited, use what you have. Don’t overcomplicate matters, live well and live simply!
6. Put down your phone
Hygge is somewhat the cure to modern life. It’s all about embracing experiences wholeheartedly and living in the moment, which is tough to do when staring at a little tech device. Turn off your phone and play a board game, bake cookies or just relax.
You can hygge on your own or with friends, it’s a really fluffy term and it involves having genuine contentment with a given situation with any worries or discomfort. The more you practise hygge, the more natural it will feel and your mind, body and soul will definitely feel a positive difference. Will you try to hygge?