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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

Image cred: jeztimms on Unsplash

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

Image cred: Pinterest

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?

It will be Chinese New Year soon and it is time to get the boxes out for a little spring cleaning. You may have dodged every attempt by your mum, your significant other or your own new year’s resolution to sort through your closet, look through your storeroom or even just recycle the stack of magazines you’ve collected over the year, but the time has now arrived to actually get down to it. If you don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, the start of the year is still a great time to get down to business and get over the cleaning you’ve been meaning to do.

Why clean?

Almost everyone succumbs to the temptation to buy things that we probably do not use. This means that we have things around the house that do not help us live our best lives while simultaneously distracting us from pursuing what is really important to us. Have you ever had the feeling of being overwhelmed while working at your overcrowded desk? Or been frustrated at your lack of clothing options although your wardrobe is at bursting point? Well then, a little decluttering can go a long way to maintain your mental and even physical health.

We might spend time and effort to rid our bodies of excess and of toxins but we seldom shift that good behaviour onto our living spaces and lifestyles. Just like detoxifying your body, decluttering your lifestyle and home will have great effects on your productivity and overall health. Read on to find out exactly how minimalism can help you in your day to day life and get you in gear to greet the New Year with confidence.

1. Saves Time

 

How many times have you known that you have an item but just did not know where you kept it? If rooting through your storeroom to find your required object among all the extras you have happens more often than you’d like it to, then it might be time to sort through your belongings. One easy way to keep your material possessions to a minimum is to get rid of duplicates. You do not have to get rid of these immediately. Put them in a box and if you don’t miss these items within a few months then consider donating these items. Decluttering your home would also allow you to organise your home better in order to find things with more ease.  Thus, there’s no more mad rush when you need these things urgently. This will also prevent you from buying unnecessary things because you are well aware of what you have and don’t have.

2. Boosts Productivity

 

Picture this: you are in the middle of working on an important work assignment when you need to retrieve some paperwork from your desk. There are stacks and stacks of paper – paperwork from your job, magazines you promised yourself you will read and grocery lists and bills that you need to keep.  Even if you knew exactly where you kept your paperwork, you will be distracted even for moment about the million other tasks that you have got to get to, leading to frustration. There is a peace of mind when you take the time to clear out the unnecessary distractions and just have the work you have to do in front of you. Science agrees: the more objects competing for your attention, the more your brain multitasks and the less focus you have on the work you need to do. So take some time, organise your table-top items into compartments, file your paperwork and bask in your new found productivity.

3. Freedom

 

Most times, things have an impact on you psychologically – a decorative vase from an ex or a book from a friend you’ve parted ways with. Though they take up space physically, they also affect your mental health, perhaps bringing to mind memories you’d rather not remember. By getting rid of such objects, not only is your physical space more free, you create for yourself an emotional safe space where you do not get saddened by the objects in your room. In fact, research shows a connection between clutter and depression. Clutter literally makes you sad. Getting rid of your clutter might not solve all your problems but it may well get you started.

While decluttering may not bring you complete detachment to worldly possessions, it will deeply benefit you in your day to day life. With all the responsibilities and goals in life, any little bit that helps is appreciated.

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