How to live the ‘Hygge’ Life

Last week for In the Middle, I wrote about how to deal with the stresses of university life, discussing ways to relax and just taking time to do the things you love. This got me thinking back to my summer abroad course in Denmark that I completed a couple of months ago. Despite having to complete the work for the equivalent of a 20 credit module in less than three weeks, combined with some of the earliest starts and latest finishes I’ve ever had to encounter, my time in the country was absolute bliss.

Although, the fact I was getting to spend my summer in such a beautiful country probably played a part in my soaring happiness levels, I can’t shake the feeling that the way the Danes live, and the fact that I was trying to fit in as much as possible by copying then, is inherently happier than how we live our lives in the UK. Time and time again, Denmark is ranked first for the happiest country in the world, and it’s not difficult to see why. The concept of hygge plays a huge role in Danish culture and their general attitude to life, but what is it exactly?

The Danes are quick to correct anyone who translates hygge (hue-gah) to simply mean coziness, as it’s so much more than that; it’s pretty much a way of life. In short, it’s actually really hard to describe, but think of it as ‘taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things’, as Meik Wiking says in The Little Book of Hygge. Feeling hygge is perhaps subjective; what’s soothing to one person might not be for someone else, but examples could include those winter nights where you huddle under a blanket with the fire on, or simply going for a coffee in a quiet and cosy café with your friends.

With autumn well upon us; arguably the best season to enjoy hygge, could this Danish concept help us to stay happy and comfortable during the colder months? The best thing about hygge is that the rules on what it is aren’t exactly strict. If you think something is hyggelig (hygge-like) then so be it! Although, almost 60% of Danes think you need three or four people to enjoy hygge, with a measly 3% believing you can achieve hygge alone. But don’t let the statistics put you off. Is there really anything better than the feeling of getting in to bed after a long day, with a cup of tea and Netflix to keep you company? Well, not for me at least.

With deadlines that seem to be forever hanging over you, it can sometimes be difficult to gather a group of friends together to just enjoy one another’s company. But hygge doesn’t have to be a big event. If anything, it should be quite the opposite!

If you’re hyggehjørnet, or simply, in the mood for hygge, then your flat or house is a good place to start, and it’s extremely unlikely that you haven’t been doing it already. For example, hyggesnak means to have chit-chat that doesn’t involve controversial topics; Søndagshygge refers to the hygge you might have on a Sunday, such as a slow day where you might just watch TV or listen to music, and my personal favourite, hyggebukser, refers to that pair of comfy trousers that you lounge around in when you’re at home, but wouldn’t be seen dead wearing them in public.

Now that you’ve read this, you’ll probably realise that you actually spend a lot of time doing things that are considered hygge, but now you actually know the name for it. So gather some friends, sort out some cosy lighting, and let the hygge flow.

Lauren Davies

(Photo credit: Lauren Davies)

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