How come Danish people are said to be the happiest nation on earth? Isn’t Denmark far up north, where it’s cold and dark all year? What have we missed, when it comes to happiness?
Now I know. We overlooked hygge.
Hygge [(/ˈhjuːɡə/] is the Scandinavian word for coziness and comfortable conviviality (says Wikipedia). This notion settled in modern language and became a lifestyle buzzword. In Danish and Norwegian, hygge means "a form of everyday togetherness" and can be found in different life areas. Something can be hyggeligt, meaning comfortable, cozy.
Meik Wiking is the author of the New York Times bestseller “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” (available at Amazon). In his book, he explains what hygge is, why it is famous and how hygge manifests in everyday life.
In this blogpost, I want to share a few insights from Wiking’s book, which you can implement in your life to make it more hyggeligt and instantly boost your happiness.
Since it is so dark Denmark, Danish pay a lot more attention to light than we do. Almost 30% of their population use candles daily and they light about three of them at once.
Candles are said to instantly create the sort of coziness which hygge bases upon. The more candles, the better. Note to self: it does not say the more expensive, the better. Regular candles do just fine.
Photo by Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
Apart from candles, all sources of light are being paid special attention to. Therefore, it should not surprise us, that some of the most famous light designers like Poul Henningsen come from Scandinavia.
In order for the hygge magic to kick in, the light should not be direct, better dimmed, soft and warm, creating just the right atmosphere of nearness.
In his book, Meik refers to hygge being “like a hug, just without touching”.
Hygge is filled with calm and safety. For real hygge to happen, no one must try to pull the attention to oneself, but instead, try to help each other for the greater good, the society.
Photo by Greg Raines on Unsplash
Hygge means coming together with close family and friends, while gathering at someone’s house is preferred to meeting in a restaurant or café. With family and friends you relax and can be yourself, no need to impress or live up to someone else’s vision of you.
According to a survey Meik refers to in his book, it takes 3 to 4 people for hygge to happen. A group of more than 4 people is being perceived as a crowd. With such a small number of people, we can imagine that is quite hard to become a member of those seemingly exclusive hygge-meetings.
Meik agrees that this is the case indeed: you need to become a real good friend of someone, in order to be included in these hygge-get-togethers. The good side? Once you are in, you are in.
Food and drink
Hygge in food and drink? Easy: Sweets are hygge. Pastries are hygge. Coffee and hot chocolate – hygge. Carrots and fois gras – not so much. You get the idea? Hygge food should be comforting, warm, easy to make and just that little bit forbidden.
A large bowl of popcorn shared with friends or a filling ragout – this is hygge food.
Photo by Felipe P. Lima Rizo on Unsplash
Danish do know that too much sugar is bad for you, but when consumed with friends and family, it seems that the calories count only half. I was surprised to learn that in Denmark sweets and “Danish” pastries are being served even during business meetings. Not imaginable in Germany, for example.
Important for hygge-food is also the fact that you produce this food yourself and thus take care of your soul: Danish love to cook and jar everything.
On my to-do list I put prepare Snorbrod: a form of campfire bread. Roasting and eating it over a campfire is definitely very huggeligt. I found a good recipe to prepare this.
If you want to add hygge to your wardrobe you need to follow one principle: ease. Your clothes should be comfortable and practicable in wearing. No pinching, no scratchiness.
Photo by John Mark Arnold on Unsplash
Following elements can be identified as hygge-style:
A scarf is an absolute must-have, if you want to dress according to hygge. You can wear it all year long, changing fabric and colors.
Danish people adore the color black. Everyone wears it, so when not accustomed to this – you would think yourself at a nationwide funeral, says Meik in “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living”. When you give it a little bit of thinking, they you must agree, that black always looks elegant and in-style.
Hygge manifests in XXL sweaters, cardigans and hand-knit pullover. So, it is time to get that grandma-woven sweater out of the wardrobe and pull it on combined with jeans or black skinny trousers.
Danish wear their comfy clothes in layers. When you think about it, it is very practical: you can take off one layer, when you are warm and pit it on again, should you become cold. Because no hygge will ever happen, when you are feeling cold.
To get that perfect hygge look for your hair, all you need to do is wake up and go. It should feel natural, not fake. Girls can pull their hair up in a bun, they higher the better.
As over 70% of all Danish people experience hygge at home, it is no surprise, they care so much about interior design and decoration.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
One crucial element to create hygge at home, is to install a so called hyggekrog, which translates as “cozy corner”. This hyggekrog is a place with a lot of cushions, warm blankets, a nice view where you shut yourself away and enjoy a hot cup of chocolate.
If you want to create real hygge at home, consider adding the following elements:
Lots of candles
Products made from wood
Books. The more the better
Ceramic and porcelain
Tactual design elements
Blankets and cushions
Here are some visual ideas how to create hygge at home:
I hope you found some ideas how to add a little hygge feeling to your everyday life and feel happier. Every cushion counts.
Pictures taken from:
Photo by Jake Lorefice on Unsplash
Photo by Timothy Buck on Unsplash
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash
Photo by Ingrid Hofstra on Unsplash
Photo by Beto Galetto on Unsplash
Photo by Deborah Diem on Unsplash
Photo by Jen P. on Unsplash