Genre: Non-Fiction/Self-Help/Cultural Publishing Date: 2016 Date Finished Reading: 22 September 2019
‘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. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’
You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.
These books talk about living a happy life and finding simple pleasures in our daily lives and it sounds so cliché, right? You must be thinking, “Oh! That’s too easy! But you know, it’s not. If I ask you now, are you happy with your life? Can you, with all honesty, no side comments, just straight on, answer me with a solid YES? Are you happy? Are WE happy?
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Here’s a fact…
Denmark holds on to its longstanding position as one of the happiest nations in the world in the 2019 edition of the World Happiness Report.
But the real question is… How come the Danes are the happiest people in the world?
THE HAPPINESS INSTITUTE
The Happiness Institute conducts research and they combine qualitative and quantitative methods to provide insights on the level of well-being, happiness and quality of life of a country. They measure the quality of life by examining different dimensions and these are:
…combine qualitative and quantitative methods to provide insights on the level of well-being, happiness and quality of life.
- Cognitive Dimension – means the overall life satisfaction
- Affective Dimension – refers to the kind of emotions (positive & negative) that the people experience every day. And lastly,
- The Eudaimonic dimension – which is the purpose and meaning of life.
Thru the books, Wiking presented the facts like a case study, but on a more relaxed approach.
THE ART OF HYGGE
There is no direct English translation for Hygge. Meik Wiking explained that hygge is all about an atmosphere, an experience and not the amount spent. It’s not necessary to spend a lot.
For example, a staycation in a hotel may be a form of relaxation but it’s not hygge. Or a relaxing time at the spa – it’s a form of self-care but again, not hygge. Hygge can be as simple as being comfortable with each other’s silent company or enjoying your cup of hot tea. It’s all about the feeling of familiarity and being with the people we love. That feeling of being at home & you can let your guard down.
THE BASICS OF HYGGE
HYGGE is not complete if you don’t have candles because the light is one of the basic elements of the hygge ritual. According to the author, from October to March it is dark in Denmark. Wiking even used Game of Thrones as a reference because the weather is almost like Winterfell – short summer, cold and dark winter and 179 days of rain per year.
Hygge is the antidote to the cold winter, the rainy days and the duvet of darkness.
In Denmark, they got candles in almost every room but these are the unscented ones. Scented-candles are not a huge thing in the country. The oldest candle manufacturer is not even selling scented candles. Natural & organic candles are always preferred!
The lower the light, the more hygge.
Another source of light is, of course, lamps and the Danes would place them strategically to create soothing lights. The lower the light, the more Hyuuga.
You can hygge all by yourself but it’s also done with a small group of people who are dear to you. Think of your intimate circle. These are the people who you can be very comfortable with. The author even emphasised the concept of relaxed thoughtfulness.
It’s more than just being physically there. It also means you’re focused on the moment, too. In my opinion, presence is rare these days, even the PRESENCE OF MIND because there are a lot of distractions.
Think of those people in your life that whenever you’re together, you just can’t believe how time passes by. Or how you forget to even take photos. That’s presence. Truly being in that moment; Mindfully & wholeheartedly. And that is an important element on the hygge ritual.
“The art of Hygge is also the art of expanding your comfort zone to include other people.”
HARMONY & EQUALITY
Sometimes, we experience a type of crowd or meet people who only participate in conversations when the topic is about them. But when it’s your turn to talk, or someone else’s, they stop giving attention. Then there’s another type of crowd where it feels like the conversation is a contest. If someone shares that he just got a new car, The other must say something about something that he bought – as if the entire discussion was a contest of who’s got more money or accomplishments. That’s tiring and most of all, not hygge. These are the exact opposite of hygge. No one takes centre stage because equality is an important element of Hygge.
#3: FOOD & DRINKS
Eating is a basic human function and of course, it’s best when what you eat is pleasurable or it makes you relaxed and happier.
Hygge is about being kind to yourself – giving yourself a treat, and giving yourself and each other, a break from the demands of healthy living. Take that hint! Regularly, they still practice healthy living but they take a break every once in a while. So don’t use hygge as an excuse to devour the desserts without control. Plus, the Danes are very active. They walk and bike a lot rather than drive so they burn a lot of calories, too.
“Something sinful is an integral component of the hygge ritual. But it shouldn’t be fancy or extravagant.”
But yes, chocolate, cookies, cake, candies, coffee & hot cocoa are part of hygge. They also love their coffee & even have a compound word for coffee & hygge = KAFFEHYGGE. Does it have to be coffee? Nope! It can be coco or wine as long as it’s warm because “something is comforting about having a warm cup of coffee in your hands.”
This reminds me so much of Sheldon Cooper’s Beverage Protocol on Big Bang Theory, that when a troubled/sad friend comes to their house, it’s mandatory to offer them a warm drink. But the hygge ritual is not just eating & drinking. The food preparation is included too! Like when you bake a loaf of bread and the entire house is filled with the freshly-baked smell.
HYGGEKROG / NOOK
The author advised that every house should have a nook or space where you can relax. Ideally, a Hyggekrog or your nook is the place where you have a blanket, some pillows and it’s where you read a book while enjoying a cup of hot beverage. Again, the concept of Hygge is all about giving your responsible, stressed-out adult life a break. And isn’t it neat to have that spot in your home where can go, and just leave the stress behind and just relax? 🙂
Wiking mentioned in his book that hygge is humble and slow. It means choosing rustic or oldover new and shiny things. Simple over fancy. Choosing ambience over excitement. He also said that simplicity & modesty are central of hygge, in other words, MORE BLING, less HYGGE
5 DIMENSIONS OF HYGGE
1. Taste of Hygge
- means it’s familiar, sweet & comforting.
2. Sound of Hygge
In Denmark or perhaps the western culture, it’s the crackling sound of the burning wood but the sound of hygge is any sound of a safe environment. Mine is the soft sounds of waves & the gentle rain sound. I LOVEEEEE THAT! Even when I was a young girl, it gave me that safe & cozy feeling.
3. Smell of Hygge
That smell that takes you to a particular moment, time & place, as long as it’s safe, comforting & cared for. It’s the smell that tells you to put your guards down completely.
4. Feeling of Hygge
- the organic feel & texture of something imperfect.
- That warm ceramic cup where you drink your coffee/tea.
5. Seeing Hygge
- All about lights but not too bright.
- While the movements, it’s slow & organic movements & of course, dark, natural colours
- Examples of these are:
- burning wood
I find The Little Book of Hygge to be very informative and insightful just as I’ve enjoyed the Little Book of Lykke.
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