If you’ve not heard the word Hygge then you’re clearly not part of the in crowd currently. Sorry about that.
Hygge- pronounced ‘hue-ga’ actually refers to a feeling, an awareness or a sense. It’s a Danish noun which captures a cultural way of living which incorporates good stuff, things that make people happy (not necessarily material possessions) and environments that enable relaxation and connection. Potentially it’s easier to identify a hyggeless space and place rather than one that personifies hygge.
Denmark is apparently one of the happiest places to live and it seems that hygge has a great deal to contribute to this claim. Based on a belief that surrounding yourself with good friends, good food shared, perhaps hot chocolate should the weather nudge you into believing that’s the only thing needed to make the world feel a better place right now, and an environment that makes you feel nurtured, warm and cosy. As you’re reading this you may well be visualising a place that holds all of this for you or reflecting on memories of good times when everything seemed just right.
Not only is hygge a way of living, it’s a conscious awareness of all that goodness and an acknowledgment that it is nourishing whatever in you that needs nourishing right now. For some people the image of the log burner with the woollen socks and the warm drink couldn’t be farther than the truth, it may well be their nemesis because their hygge includes Prosecco, bright lights and shouty voices. Each to their own. However, the Danish approach is very much based on their long cold dark winters and the need for warmth and social connection when it would be easy to stay at home on your own eating Pringles.
Essential material components of hygge appear to include thick chunky wool throws (in grey of course), candles and candle light, non-uniform clutter of significance (i.e. your granny’s button box), anything cinnamon based, wood, textures, a little tartan and good wholesome food; there are antioxidants in dark chocolate after all.
Of course, you could gather up all this stuff and stage what you believe to be hygge but you’d be missing the essential component, one that’s not as readily available in supermarkets or on Amazon. People. Significant attuned people who share some of the same values as you, are good company and give as well as receive in terms of their time and love. It’s not all about other people though, it’s perfectly possible to solo hygge, especially if being on your own is a welcome context. Perhaps a hot cup of tea drunk with no background drone of a tv or other white noise. With a jaffa cake or a quinoa chia seed bake or a Danish (cinnamon) pastry if you’re going full on hygge.
The key of course is to find your hygge; your essential mix of things that work for you and hopefully they all combine at the right time to reinforce the core of hygge which is ‘here and now is good’.
The last few days have been busy ones in this household, lots of people coming to visit, stay and join us for meals and chatter. It’s been hygge central and it’s been good. It’s like a massive dose of nutrients in human form. One of the days in particular was spent with a group of lovely ladies for whom hygge also means being connected in ways that we’d rather not have chosen but nonetheless cancer has been the vehicle to bind us together. Being amongst friends who have had a cancer diagnosis and treatments and their side effects gives you a sense of liberation to talk quite freely about things that ordinarily might be painful or odd for others to hear. But the most overwhelming activity of the day was laughter, joyful laughter that emanated from the wry observations of life in cancerland and how that might make us behave, feel and think.
As the BBC news magazine comments ‘The adjectival form of hygge is “hyggeligt”, a word offered as a compliment to a host after a pleasant evening at their home.’ Our hyggeligt day refuelled our tanks and as one of the ladies left she commented that she’d laughed a lot and that the day had been ‘real’ (and that other forms of cancer other than breast are available!).
What’s on your hygge list?