Hy-a-what? Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it, I sure hadn’t. I was browsing the library shelves as my children were playing and I came across a small book with a simple design called The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. Apparently, the pronunciation is up for debate as either hoo-ga or hue-guh. To me it sounds better as hi-ghee and it’s definitely more fun to say that way.
Whichever way you pronounce it the concept is rather simple.
Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down. (Weik Wiking)
It sounds absolutely wonderful. The Little Book of Hygge lays out the basics of how to become a hyggeligt, discovering the Danes’ secret to their happiness. Most have heard that Denmark is ranked as the happiest country in the world, and hygge is believed to be partially responsible for it. But how can such a simple concept be responsible for great happiness? I’m intrigued by it, to say the least. If you break hygge down to the raw basics—warmth, coziness, togetherness, food, coffee, lighting—you do begin to see how hygge could breed happiness. Most of us enjoy a lazy evening around a fireplace with good food, drink, and friends. Add a few blankets for chilly weather or globe string lights around a deck for summer, and you are well on your way to experiencing the hygge way.
The basic secrets to practicing hygge are easy to implement. Wiking lists 10 tenants of the hygge manifesto, all of which are attainable to everyone.
- Atmosphere—burn those candles, baby
- Presence—be in the moment
- Pleasure—comfort food please!
- Equality—focus on we
- Gratitude—appreciate it all
- Harmony—celebrate as one
- Comfort—relax with texture
- Truce—leave Trump out of it
- Togetherness—share your memories
- Shelter—it’s a safe place
All ten of these make complete sense. I know personally that when I’m in a place of calm with people I trust, I am more likely to wear a smile on my face and to feel true joy. A room with gentle lighting, comfy reading spaces, walls lined with filled book cases, and a warm cup of coffee in my hand is the perfect recipe for relaxing intimacy. I think I see hygge in my future.
Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute (who knew that was even a thing) and supplements the practical aspects of hygge with solid research throughout the book. He ties in the social and governmental structure of Denmark to explain why his country consistently ranks top on the list of the happiest places around the world. The research attributes social support as the largest factor effecting happiness. As a welfare state, Denmark supports its citizens, which in turn reduces the stress on the population. Unfortunately, the US is far from this ideal, yet with a little hygge help, we may be able to attain everyday happiness.
I’m on a mission to pursue hygge in my home and with my friends. My heart desires this “coziness of the soul.” I have a fireplace, a fire pit, and plenty of candles, just waiting to be lit. How will you practice hygge? Please share here on the blog, email us, or via Instagram at #bare-hygge.
Your Fellow Traveler,
Additional Reading on Hygge: