A Scandinavian Concept
with an introduction by guest writer
Miriam Elen is a Welsh, 26 year old university graduate now living and writing in New Zeland where she shares her home with long term partner Sam and rescue kitty Tess.
Miriam is a keen environmentalist and a passionate Vegan who cares deeply about animal welfare, both of which are often topics covered in her own writing and social media presence in an effort to inform and educate.
Interested in reading more from Miriam? Then why not click on the links below and visit her directly via her own blog - 'A Hygge Escape' or follow her Insta and Twitter accounts.
What is Hygge and how do you achieve it?
Hygge is a Danish word that I’m sure most of you have come across by now. It doesn’t translate into a word in English so it can be tricky knowing exactly what it means… and how to say it.
Let’s start with how to say it. When I first came across the word, I read it as “hug”, and then when I thought I knew how to pronounce it properly, I was saying “hoo-ga” but alas that is not how it should be said either. The correct way to pronounce it is “hue-gah”.
And what does it mean? Essentially, Hygge is the word given to the feeling of cosiness.
Hygge is acknowledging your feeling of contentment in the moment, whether it be sitting by the fire with friends, reading a book in your favourite spot, or cuddling up to your pet under a blanket.
So to have a hygge lifestyle is to appreciate those little moments of happiness and comfort when they are apparent. Can you imagine the difference it would make in your life if you started being grateful every time you felt this way? Just sitting back and enjoying the moment of peace and serenity.
How do you achieve a hygge life?
There isn’t a simple recipe or equation that I can write out to give the answer to this. But I can try my best to do what Meik Wiking did in his international bestseller “The Little Book of Hygge” and give you some pointers.
Set up your space in a way that makes you feel happy inside
Everybody has different tastes and styling ideas when it comes to decorating a home and that’s ok. It’s about your personal preferences in what makes you smile when you walk through your front door.
Lighting, according to Meik Wiking does play a big part in having a hygge home, though. Think of flickering candles, a smoldering fire or a spectacular sunset after a sunny day - lighting that will create an ambiance. Other things to consider if you want to set up a hygge home may be; lots of cushions, blankets, nooks, plants and pets. For some, a house with a personality would be hygge, for others, it may be a minimalist approach to interior design that makes them feel good!
Do things that makes you feel happy inside
This could be eating cake at your favourite cafe, spending time with your children at their favourite park, having lunch at home with your friends, or seeing family members you don’t see that often but enjoy their company.
Hygge is also about doing things out of love, instead of convenience. So create little rituals, like making time to stop at the bakery on the way to work, or at the flower shop on the way home. Spend time preparing tea in a teapot and your favourite cup with saucer instead of using a kettle and mug. Sit outside on your breaks, breathing in fresh air instead of being cooped up inside. Take a stroll through the park when you have nothing to do, instead of sitting, scrolling on social media.
Do more of these things, and cut back on things that don’t make you feel like you’re so content you could burst!
Prioritise your time
Expanding on the last point - prioritising what is important to them, and valuing their free time is one of the Danes’ main ways of incorporating Hygge into their daily lives. Did you know that in Denmark, their work days are usually 8am-4pm, and that staying late is frowned upon? Overtime is discouraged, and the average Dane works between 33 and 37 hours a week! Some even get to leave early on Fridays, around 2.30pm. And if that wasn’t enough, offices will supply cakes and other sweet treats to ensure employees are happy, and thus adding to the hygge lifestyle they strive for.
Now, I’m not saying you should pack up your bag and leave work early every day from now. Or demand that your boss supply you with cakes (wouldn’t that be nice?!). But take a leaf out of the Danes’ book, and make your life your first priority, and work second.
Maybe, treat yourself to a donut on your break once in a while. Savour the moment. If you’re working overtime, make sure you ask yourself “is this what I want?” and if it’s not, then you don’t have to be there. When you’re not at the workplace, make sure your mind isn’t at work either!
Bottom line - do more of the things that bring you joy instead of making excuses like “I don’t have enough time”. Life shouldn’t be work, work, work.
Spend time with friends
When in doubt, invite your mates over. Maybe a potluck dinner party? Or a baking competition? The Danes often do this, and even have their closest friends over to make something together - drinking and laughing whilst taking in the delicious aromas of whatever they’re cooking, or baking. The evening is not about the end result of the meal they eat, but rather about the kinship and familiarity. Hygge is the atmosphere they create and enjoy in the time spent together.
I think we can all learn a little about living life a bit slower, and appreciating moments of happiness and contentment.
Life can be intense, life can become repetitive, and it can even become a little disappointing. The world could be a lot kinder and more enjoyable if we all embraced the hygge lifestyle as well as the Danes do.
I hope this post has shed a little light on the concept, and inspired you to be more hygge.