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How to embrace Hygge

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Hygge

Sitting by the fire on a cold night, wearing a woolly jumper, while drinking mulled wine and stroking a dog – probably surrounded by candles. That’s definitely “hygge”.

 

Eating home-made cinnamon pastries. Watching TV under a duvet. Tea served in a china set. Family get-togethers at Christmas. They’re all hygge too.

 

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day things more meaningful, beautiful or special.  Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

 

11 ways to make your life more hygge

1. Spend quality time with friends and family

We all know that having a good time with people we love makes us happy. But when was the last time you sat around a big table with all of your nearest and dearest and shared stories until the wee hours? Laughing, joking and drinking- this is hygge.

2. Sit by a roaring log fire

Few things evoke feelings of cosiness and warmth more than a roaring fire during the coldest months. A proper “hyggeligt” (translate: cosy) fire should, of course, use real wood. In fact, a real hyggeligt living room should certainly have its own log pile.

3. Keep things simple

Why spend hours cooped up in the kitchen, agonising over recipe books to create complicated dishes. Do things the Danish way and keep the food simple, whether that be a heart-warming soup or simple roast chicken, always opt for something delicious that can be cooked with minimum fuss.

4. Dim the lights and use candles instead

Danes love candles, and so do we. The flickering flames create an ephemeral glow and add a brooding sense of atmosphere to even the dankest room. But be warned, never go for the scented kind. Nothing about hygge is artificial – not even the candles. Beeswax is best.

5. Decorate the inside with the outside

We believe a happy, healthy life is one lived within nature. But sometimes it’s just too chilly to go outside. To counteract this, Danes are big fans of bringing the outdoors inside: Think exposed stone walls, wooden floors, huge tables made from great trees and, of course, big piles of logs ready to be thrown on a roaring open fire. 

6. Bake bread

The smell of a freshly baked rustic loaf wafting through the house is about as hygge is it gets. Kneading the dough can be very cathartic and tucking into a home-made bake, straight from the oven, with family and friends, is one of life’s great simple pleasures.

7. Drink cocoa

Preferably stirred slowly over a hot stove and made using fine, real chocolate, cream and milk, then decentered into big mugs and consumed in your cosy living room with friends. Mmmm delicious. 

8. Don’t deprive yourself

Hygge is all about indulging in the good things in life, the things that make us truly happy – which, yes, often means eating cake and pastry. Well, we don’t mind if we do! 

9. Get outside

Don’t be fooled, it may be chilly outside but there’s more to hygge than staying cooped up indoors. You see, it’s all about balance and living a good, healthy life – so exposure to nature is absolutely key. Going for a wellie walk wearing a warm woolly scarf with the wind whipping up your hair – that’s 100% hygge too (so long as you dive straight back to the sofa afterwards to enjoy a warming cup of cocoa).

10. Pick up a book

Although hygge encompasses a feeling of familiarity and togetherness, you can still achieve it alone. There are few things more hygge than cuddling up under a blanket and getting stuck into a proper, paper book – rather than the electronic kind. Is there anything more exquisite than that new book smell? 

11. Put down the iPhone

Hygge is the antidote to modern life. It’s all about embracing these experiences fully and living in the moment, which is difficult to do when staring at a teeny weeny screen. So put down the phone and enjoy the feeling!

Technology and modern day busy-ness has removed so many of us from ourselves, our homes and ordinary tasks, making them feel as though these things are chores, have no meaning/importance or are too time-consuming so they’re skipped or not enjoyed. It’s stopped us from being authentic and conscious of how we live and interact. Hygge is about celebrating reality and being present and transforming the ordinary into a moment to recognise instead.

Danes are often cited as the happiest nation in the world and for good reason – they make enjoyment a priority and take the time to celebrate/acknowledge simple, wonderful moments  that nourish the soul. They find ways to incorporate hygge into their daily life so it becomes a natural extension rather than a forced and stressful event.  It’s an act that’s also enjoyed – and perhaps that’s what hygge really is. Acknowledging the moment instead of drudging through it.

 

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© 2016 Emma Bovington

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