It is no coincidence that the Danes took the top spot in the United Nation’s Happiness Report in 2012, 2013 and 2016. In 2015 they came third behind Iceland and Switzerland, two countries also known for practicing the art of hygge.
Although hygge has been practiced by the Danes since the 18th century, it seems the rest of the world are only just discovering it. With many books being published on the subject, it is set to become the biggest publishing trend this year as authors and experts try to educate the world on its many benefits.
It is said that Hygge is a practice that makes homes nicer and people happier. The Danes, Swiss and Icelander’s have developed hygge as an attitude to life, but for those of us who were not born into hygge, how easy it is to learn the art that makes the Scandinavians such happy people?
With these countries experiencing up to 17 hours of darkness a day during winter and the average temperature being around 0 degrees C, they spend a lot of time indoors. This means that there is more focus on home entertaining.
In these conditions, it is important to feel as relaxed and cozy as possible (think sitting at home on a cold winters night after a long day at work, with the fire blazing while wearing your favorite fluffy socks).
So, the first step in embracing the art of hygge is to embrace the concept of coziness, which is essentially self-comfort. You can do this whether you live in a warm or cold climate.
It involves cherishing yourself, forgetting about your worries and snuggling up. It is about embracing the little things in life. It is about shutting off from work, enjoying a (guilt free) slice of cake and spending time with friends and family.
It isn’t easy to find the time for hygge when there is so much going on in day-to-day life. But if practicing hygge is the reason why the Danes and Scandinavians score high on the happiness pole, making time is something that could bring huge benefits.
There are no set definitions for exactly what can be considered hygge. It can be anything and that’s one of the greatest things about it. Reading a book, a cup of coffee by the fire, a candle lit dinner with friends, your dog asleep beside your feet; these are hygge.
It is simply about cherishing the moments that are so often either taken for granted or pushed aside in favour of social media, online shopping or some other distraction. It’s about living in the moment and simply being focused on what is happening at that exact time. So rather than trying to catch up with a friend on the phone while also cleaning up after dinner, forget about cleaning up. Simply chat to your friend, enjoy the moment and embrace the downtime.
When you’re enjoying a glass of wine but there is a whole lot of laundry to be done, don’t worry about it. Enjoy your wine, laundry can be done later or tomorrow. Don’t feel bad about not doing anything because you are doing something, you’re hygge-ing. And that’s ok.
To gain a greater and more in depth knowledge of hygge The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection has all you need to know about the Danish way of living.