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A Beginner's Guide to Hygge

By: Genevieve Glynn-Reeves

The population of Denmark are the happiest people in the world. Well, at least according to the World Happiness Report, in which it has been found to be the “happiest place to live” several times over. So, why are the Danes so happy? Is there something in the water? In part, it has been accredited to something called Hygge (which is pronounced hoo-gah). The word hygge cannot be directly translated, but derives from the Danish word for "wellbeing". However, hygge is more than a word to the Danes and the many other people who’ve more recently adopted it. It’s also a lifestyle, built around the principles of community and an appreciation for the simple pleasures in life.

The feeling of hygge is a warm and cozy one. It’s how we feel when we are tucked up warm while it’s stormy outside or the sensation of a warm mug in our hands. It’s laughing with friends and family by candlelight and the satisfaction of a stomach full of good food and drink. It’s easy to understand why this kind of attitude to life is so important to the Danish. Denmark has a cold and harsh climate, but yet still has great natural beauty. Being able to connect with this environment while preserving comfort is what hygge is all about.

What is so brilliant about hygge is that it’s something we can all incorporate into our own lives. It’s all about taking time to enjoy the things, places and people that you love. Whether that means taking time during your lunch break to go for a walk outside or ending your day with a cozy cup of tea and a book rather than scrolling endlessly through Instagram. We could all afford a little more times like these in our days. Within our culture, the priority is often placed on achievements and hard work. As important as these things are, it’s easy to forget that we also need to take time to rest and enjoy the present. After all, that's we’ve worked so hard for.

There are lots of online resources where you can find out more about hygge and how it can be incorporated into your life. I would also recommend reading “The Little Book of Hygge” by Jonny Jackson if you are interested. You don’t have to change all of your habits, but it’s definitely worth considering how you can inject a little bit more happiness into your day to day life.

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