This article first appeared in House & Leisure Online and is entitled “Happiness begins with Hygge”. Here I’ve adapted my original post slightly in order to make it blog-relevant. 

If 2017 has a theme, it would have to be Hygge. Pronounced hue-gah, this Danish concept is all about getting cosy in colder weather. I explore how to bring a little hygge into your home, no matter the climate.

Originally a way of getting through the long dark months of a Danish winter by invoking a sense of pleasure from hunkering down, eating copious amounts of warming foods and owning a vast selection of woolly socks, hygge is a notion that has evolved into a way of gaining happiness from the ordinary. At it’s core, hygge is simply about creating a warm atmosphere by appreciating life’s little pleasures. This could anything from curling up in a patch of afternoon sun with a good book to enjoying a glass of red wine. Dinner eaten beside friends around a table is hygge. Stroking the soft fur of a pet is hygge. Taking a long soak in a hot bath is hygge. Illuminating your home with candles is hygge too. There is nothing loud nor excessive about hygge. One needs not prepare for it – and it shouldn’t in any way cause stress. When done correctly, hygge is able to elevate personal happiness through the quiet acknowledgement of everyday activities that produce pleasure within you. This is no euphoric exclamation but rather a soft sigh of contentment – cool clean sheets after a long day, food made for you by someone that you love, the unexpected appearance of a favourite song on the radio. For me, the latter has to be Neil Young’s Old Man.

In Denmark, hygge really comes into it’s own around Christmastime – mulled wine, hundreds of candles and restaurants serving nothing but warm porridge embody this unique concept when the weather turns frosty. The key is to be aware and present in the situation at hand by removing oneself from stresses past and present and entering a state of complete mindfulness and gratitude.

If you’re looking to incorporate hygge into your home, here are some simple ways of bringing in the bliss.

  • On cold, dark days curl up with a candle and a mug of hot cocoa and revel in the feeling of coziness.
  • Invite friends for a home-cooked dinner and take your time setting the table and cooking your favourite food.
  • Buy yourself fresh flowers for no reason other than to brighten to your day. Enjoy looking at them.
  • Spend time actively devoting yourself to a hobby that you love.
  • Take an afternoon nap.
  • Surround yourself with blankets and daydream.
  • Most of all, be present.

Remember that hygge isn’t about naming anything – don’t call hygge hygge. It needs to be felt instead of named.

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