There’s no denying that the last few months were challenging for people all over the world. With all that’s going on and the fast-moving complexity of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy to feel disheartened and disappointed with the new way we have to live for a while. Part of our “new standard” for most of us means spending a great deal of time at home. Coinciding with most of Australia’s changing seasons, now is a great time to practise presence at home and enjoy a quality time. Or, as the Hollanders and Norwegians say, hygge.
What is Hygge?
Since books like The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets To Happy Living by Meik Wiking was published in 2016, Hygge has become wider known. The word is of Danish and Norwegian origins and is a mood of comfort and happiness, as well as a feeling of well-being and satisfaction. Though in Danish and Norwegian the word has the same meaning, in Denmark Hygge is a more popular concept.
Meik Wiking is CEO of Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute. He explains the idea of hygge as “the art of building warmth,” “the soul’s cosiness,” and even “cocoa by candlelight.” As Wiking said in his novel, you know hygge when you’re feeling it. Some of the concept’s main elements include harmony, relaxation, indulgence, appearance and comfort.
So why are the Danes so happy?
Denmark was the happiest country in the world according to Wiking and the World Happiness Report 2016. In subsequent World Happiness Reports Nordic countries continued to rank highly. Explaining why Denmark continues to rank among the happiest nations in the world, Wiking says, “The Danes are exceptionally good at decoupling wealth and well-being” and “We ‘re focusing on the small things that actually matter, including spending more quality time with family and friends and enjoying the finer things in life.”
How does one practice hygge?
The central part of hygge is simply sharing pleasures with yourself and your loved ones. A key part of hygge for many people is the creation of a cosy environment. This may include calm, dim candle lighting or just having a few lights on in your home, wearing comfortable clothes and cosy under your favourite blanket when it’s chilly outside.
Next, slow down and enjoy the process of making a delicious slow-cooked meal or baking one of your favourite delicacies. You can put your preferred ingredients in a slow cooker and let them work their charm, or enjoy making a heartfelt soup or curry for some time. Other things you can enjoy at home on a cosy day include enjoying a good film (without your telephone next to you), reading a novel or playing board games.
If there was ever a time to enjoy hygge and slow down to take care of yourself and your loved ones, now is the time.