First things first, it’s pronounced hoo-ga. Throughout my trip to Copenhagen earlier this year up until very recently, I was pronouncing it a variety of ways, but not like that.
Now that’s cleared up…what is it?
This is even trickier than pronouncing it. Hygge isn’t directly translatable into English but is a Danish word which conveys a certain feeling of contentedness. One of my favourite phrases to sum up hygge is “cosiness of the soul”. Basically, you know that feeling that you get when you’re curled up in a blanket, reading a book by candlelight with a hot drink in hand? Well, that’s hygge.
I recently purchased a book titled The Little Book of Hygge to find out more about how to be as happy as a Dane (in case you didn’t know, Denmark is one of the happiest nations in the world). This gem of a book is written by Meik Wiking, who is CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (yes, it’s real).
As I said in my previous blog, it’s often the little things that we find comfort in and this book proves exactly that!
So how does one get their hygge on?
Let me list a few of my favourites:
- Lights – hygge is all about the atmospheric lighting with a particular penchant for candlelight. However if, like me, you had a recent close shave with almost setting your parent’s house on fire and temporarily avoiding flames (that’s a whole other story) then fairy lights will also suffice.
- Food and drink – think hearty stews and mugs of hot chocolate now that winter is almost upon us (without sounding too Game of Thrones…). That or indulging in a Danish pastry, of course.
- Clothes – the book recommends a lot of highly fashionable jumpers, scarves and skinny jeans to layer up with. However, my poodle onesie brings a lot of hygge into my life no matter how stupid I look.
- Inexpensive hygge – these happy feelings don’t even have to cost you! Just by being with some of your favourite people, digging out some board games and switching on your fairy lights you can hygge to your heart’s content!
Finally, I’ll finish by talking about a section of The Little Book of Hygge that I personally enjoyed: Hygge – Socialising for Introverts. I am, I suppose, what you would describe as an extroverted introvert. I do not consider myself to be a particularly shy person – my job requires me to be extroverted 90% of the time and I enjoy going out and partying with friends. However, in some larger social situations I feel overwhelmed. My introverted side is something that I have often struggled with (who wants to be the quiet one in the corner?) but this book helped me to understand that preferring hygge-type fun from time to time does not make me a complete bore!
It is known that introverts derive their energy from within, while extroverts derive theirs from external stimulation. Introverts are often seen as loners, while extroverts are the ones to surround yourself with if you want to have a good time. Introversion is wrongly linked with shyness and, although social events are not for everyone and might leave an introvert over-stimulated and exhausted, social introverts do exist (just as calm extroverts do).
Well said, Mr Happiness Researcher.
So, if my mini lesson hasn’t convinced you to introduce a little hygge into your life, I suggest you go buy the book! And if that still doesn’t work, I guess the Danish way just isn’t for you.