Hygge. It’s everywhere. You can’t fail to have seen the word wherever you’ve been – the internet, emails, displays front-and-centre in your local bookshop. It’s the lifestyle which is all the rage, hijacked from its Danish roots as we all strive to slow down and take the time to reflect and enjoy the here-and-now.
It’s pretty hard to pronounce (“hoo-gah”) and even harder to accurately define, there is no direct translation for it in English. “Cosy” perhaps comes closest, but it doesn’t tell the full story.
Hygge isn’t just a word, it’s a philosophy for life; it’s the pursuit of everyday happiness; it’s a very deliberate, slow, intentional approach to recognise, enjoy and fully embrace the present.
Keeping it simple
Underpinning hygge is a craving for simplicity. It’s a desire to pare down, free our time up from extraneous duties, and make space for the things that bring joy to our lives. Most importantly, to make the most of the time that we have on this planet.
So, what does hygge mean?
There are no hard-and-fast rules and it looks and feels different for everyone. We all define and find happiness in our own way. Perhaps it’s an awareness and appreciation of our surroundings – just being. Yet for others, maybe it’s intentionally creating it – for yourself and others.
In Scandinavian countries, there are some recurring themes synonymous with hygge. Cold temperatures and long hours of darkness require the need for light, warmth and cosiness, whether wrapped up outdoors or snuggled down at home.
Although Danish in origin, its essence is universal.
Hygge is primarily about warmth, connection and togetherness. It is taking the time out for a real and deliberate pause during your day to relax, reflect and take stock of your surroundings, where you are and what you’re about.
This might include:
- creating a warm, inviting atmosphere in your home – lighting candles and curling up in front of the fire without screens or distracting tech.
- gathering around the table with family and friends, sharing food, drink and conversation.
- walking, running, cycling or otherwise spending time in nature, with family or friends, soaking up the sights, sounds and smells.
In Scandinavia, life takes place outdoors as much as inside. No matter how unappealing the weather, Scandinavians take every opportunity to find succour and contentment in nature, disconnecting from modern life, phones, computers, the relentless buzz and distractions of social media notifications or 24/7 television – to take in the pleasures on offer from the wider world.
Freedom in nature gives us all the opportunity to reflect, collect our thoughts and put things into perspective, things all too easy to ignore or forget as we race through life at 100 miles per hour.
How to hygge – it’s about keeping mindful
There are endless ways to hygge but being mindful of the happiness around you is at its core. Embracing hygge to the full brings a sense of community, presence, and contemplation in our fast-paced and relentless modern-day lives.
- Hygge begins in the home and extends out from there into other aspects of your life. So, create an atmosphere at home which is cosy and inviting. Furnishing with natural materials add a timeless element to Scandinavian design but still offer a warm feeling. IKEA is popular for a reason other than cost!
- Embrace an active lifestyle and embrace nature. Get out for long walks or bike rides – aim to feel good, rather than looking good. While you are out and about, take the time to reflect on the very essence of what living is about.
- Make room for connection and relationships, whether that’s enjoying a meal at the dinner table, sipping coffee together, or meeting for a long walk.
- When you are at the table, eat slow! Keep your food simple and honest – cook real food and eat with the seasons. Savour these times spent around the table with family and friends. But enjoy everything in moderation.
Adopt as few or as many concepts of hygge as you like. You may already be using principles of hygge in your life without realising it. But if you’re not, embrace these simple practices which don’t require a huge effort – hygge shouldn’t be hard.