Hygge: the secret to living well between holidays
It’s now 2018 and I brought in the New Year in a surprisingly happily low key way: from the rooftop of my London apartment building with a dear friend of mine (who I met on my American road trip incidentally), watching the distant London fireworks with her puppy dog and the customary glass of prosecco!
I’m not ashamed to admit that our evening was, probably by anyone else’s standards, exceedingly dull. We were cozy on the couch most of the evening, with our fluffy slippers, sipping steaming cups of tea in the glow of candles and the Christmas tree lights, watching the emotional struggles of the overly dramatic Mariane Dashwood (played by Kate Winslet) in Sense and Sensibility. When that was over we sat together and crocheted little squishy balls while listening to the distant cracks of early fireworks, just for fun.
For the first time in a long time I wasn’t wrought with anxiousness from FOMO (fear of missing out – its a real thing!) or off in some foreign land trying to find a party. Barely a couple of years ago the same friend and I were wedged in the crowds of London, spending way too much money and time in queues in bars trying to get drunk, dodging gyrating drunkards and piles of vomit and straining our voices trying to yell to each other over the heavy base, beats and noise.
No. This New Years was quiet, comfortable and peaceful. I was exceedingly grateful for friendship, companionship, warmth and having little things I enjoy. Just goes to show there was some emotional growth in 2017!
My new perspective may have come about from reading a book I had received from my sister for my birthday, The Little Book of Hygge: the Danish way to live well by Meik Wiking. As it says in the introduction:
Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down. You may be having an endless conversation about the small or big things in life – or just be comfortable in each other’s silent company – or simply just be by yourself enjoying a cup of tea.
The book describes the different elements that can help create a sense of hygge, from dimmed, warm lighting and slow movements, to textures and smells and tastes that remind us of good and happy things, and being with those you trust and make you happy. It’s about simple pleasures, togetherness and savouring the moment. I suppose it mixes the current popular movement of ‘mindfulness’ with creating the right environment to bring about feelings worth relishing.
For example, it may be the having the sweet smell of blooming flowers in the house in the dead of winter, treating myself to a little bit of expensive macadamia nuts or fancy honey in my tea, or hanging pretty fairy lights in my room. These are all small things which could bring a spark of joy to my day or remind me of good memories and happy moments.
Denmark consistently ranks amongst the happiest nations in the world. It seems to stem from this cultural ideal to seek little pots of happiness everyday in the small, normally mundane, things. It’s easy to achieve a utopia of good feelings while travelling. Life is exciting, there are new and interesting things to see and do, you seek out good food, you make an effort to have a good time.
As I realised last year, when I had to spend long periods of time without gallivanting off somewhere new, the hardest part is finding a good quality of life between the trips and holidays. Without a constant ‘dose’ of holiday euphoria to get me through, I found the mundane life in the city to be draining my soul.
This book taught me that with a few changes, some extra little details and a new perspective, the very same thing which I found to be draining could actually bring me better and longer-lasting wellbeing.
Hygge gives us the language, the objective and the methods for planning and preserving happiness – and for getting a little bit of it everyday… hygge is about making the most of what we have in abundance: the everyday
With this newfound knowledge I’m challenging myself in 2018 to create and make hygge in my everyday life and to see it all around. What kind of things do you love to taste, feel, hear or do either by yourself or with friends or loved ones that brings a little bit of that warm happy glow of hygge to your everyday life? Post your ideas below!