The Danes are invading. Again. But no need to panic! This time around it’s all love and cuddles as they share an age-old key to happiness they’ve been keeping under their uber-cool, snuggly hats for a while now. Hygge.
In a world where the pace of life is dragging us all along to a seeming raggedy end, the Danes must surely have spotted the need for Hygge to go global. Talk of the phenomenon is becoming difficult to avoid. I’m no expert, but I’ve been tuning into the idea for a little while now, so I suppose I can offer you my own interpretation of what I understand Hygge to be.
Firstly, it’s pronounced ‘Whoor-Gah’ (which is good to know so you can correct know-it-all-Mary when she blathers on ad-nauseum at the Christmas party about it). And, from what I can decipher, its as simple as being aware of a good moment; noting a moment of contentment that comes of something special or simple; taking pleasure in that moment and acknowledging it. The rules are loose, but that moment need not necessarily cost anything, can often involve some aspect of nature and is very much entwined with feelings of cosiness and warmth. An 8-month Danish Winter has made Hygge central to surviving the darkness that season can bring, and so candles and fires are all very Hygge, with Winter’s brightest light, Christmas, being Hygge’s official ‘high season’. (PS – the word can be used as a noun, an adjective and a verb. You really can’t go wrong!)
This whole concept isn’t new. Irish Mammies have been en point for years with their ‘Moment’s Peace’ and ‘A Nice Sit Down’ and a first-world movement towards mindfulness and living-in-the-now has been popular for some time. (Kids as little as three are starting to meditate and practice yoga). It’s just that now it’s got a name! Anyone else get the feeling its becoming increasingly difficult to be in the moment as we become ever more conscious of, well, being in the moment?
The cynic in all of us would say that Hygge is yet another marketing tool to sell more stuff to more people. Want to have Hygge in your home? Buy this stuff. Like to have Hygge in your life? Buy that stuff. And if you hadn’t heard of it before, no doubt by the time 2017 is out we’ll all be quite sick of it. It’s sure to feature in the hippest New Year’s Resolutions lists and self-proclaimed Hygge gurus will be wanting to feng shui it into a lifestyle package near you!
In spite of all of this, there’s something telling me we should take this Danish concept to heart; that there is something in this Hygge thing that is worth appreciating in its purest form. Every day life can be tough and more and more people are feeling anxious, stressed and generally unhappy. And this is a problem – one no longer reserved for adults, but now effecting adolescents and children too. Although reportedly one of the happiest nations on the planet, I don’t think the Danes necessarily have the recipe for formulating a wholly contented life. But building up our coping skills cannot be a bad thing and maybe Hygge is a daily habit worth forming from an early age.
When you’re living on the edge with two little ones, a hot coffee, a long walk, an over-lap of naps are all Hygge. A hot shower to me is total Hygge – I don’t always have the time to wash my hair, but I usually get to wash my face and that is utter bliss when I have smallies in my presence 24/7! Note them, appreciate them, bank them. On a day when you might feel you’ve under-achieved, there’ll usually have been some little glimpse of Hygge, which in itself can be deemed an achievement. Well done!