How happy would you consider yourself to be? What makes you get excited and click your heels? Is your quality of life something that you would like to enhance?
I recently discovered that the Danish people rank amongst the happiest in the world (Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen), and that’s all while living in a country that rains 174 days of the year. Sound familiar? The Danes are known to meet often with family and friends and are characterized as having calm and peaceful demeanours. The Danes actually have a name for this way of living well, and it is called Hygge (pronounced HU-guh).
What can Hygge teach us about happiness?
Hygge is a term that defines the unique Danish cultural attitude and lifestyle. This Nordic word means “wellness” and exemplifies an attitude towards cozy contentment, creating familial connections within the home, and nurturing feelings of comfort and wellbeing. The Danes bring spirit and mindfulness into their more mundane routines as a way of celebrating them; enjoying each present moment as it comes. Most ideally, it is about connecting with their loved ones and creating a home environment where they feel safe and can let their guards down.
Here are some ideas to create and encourage happiness culture in your life:
- Togetherness: Gathering with friends and family is a big part of Hygge culture and the strength of your social relationships is the best predictor of whether you are happy or not. Regular social get-togethers (mostly in smaller groups) where you can share your thoughts and feelings and give and receive support, makes us feel understood and accepted. Hygge attitude works equally well for introverts and extroverts, with lots of relaxed thoughtfulness. It’s more about the “we” than “me”.
- Collaboration: Coming together for a shared experience. Think potluck or baking cookies together. You could also organize an arts and crafts day or throw a board game party. Aim to make meaningful and fun memories while also sharing the work.
- Create an atmosphere: Shaping your home into a place you feel happy and comfortable is key. Try draping a luscious wool blanket on the couch, creating a comfy nook for reading or meditating, rearranging your furniture, or hanging a photograph of someone, or something, you love.
- Lighting: Nothing creates a Hygge mood more than carefully chosen lighting. Try it in the warmest spectrum, to provide soothing pools of light that are similar to colours found in a sunset. Candles, twinkle lights or lamps create the softest glow that can make any room into an inviting and relaxing space.
- Embrace simplicity: This sounds easy, but for some slowing down to enjoy the simple things can be challenging. Try brewing a cup of cocoa and sipping it in your favourite chair without distractions. Relish it while taking a break from your phone or device.
- Warm Drinks: The enjoyment of comforting warm drinks rate the highest amongst Hygge activities, with coffee holding the highest prize. Hung out in a coffee shop lately? Invite a friend or two and find a cozy Hygge type cafe to savour some quality time together.
- Try out new rituals and routines: Feeling occasionally stuck in your everyday routine is normal. Going straight to the couch to watch TV after work can be an easy habit to fall into, and can leave us feeling isolated. Creating plans that involve community and socializing keeps us off the couch to instead soak up warm connections with others.
- Your Home is your Hygge headquarters. Your home is the hub of your social scene, so make it a place you enjoy hanging out; a place where you feel warm, relaxed and safe. Perhaps it is near a fireplace or lit with candles. Think about using natural and tactile elements such as wood, ceramics, cotton throws, wool rugs and soft pillows. Bring nature indoors.
How do you know if you are having a Hygge moment? You’ll simply know it when you feel it. It will be characterized by a contented feeling and a bubbling up of excitement about what you are about to do. Having a Hygge mindset will soon become natural to you, bumping your happiness quota to new levels. Establishing new habits about how we hang out together will benefit everyone in our social circles.
Let’s embrace more happiness and share it with others. Let's make "Hygge" a household term where everyone knows its meaning.