happiness life hacks

The art of hygge

If you frequent lifestyle blogs or consider yourself a fan of Scandinavian culture, chances are you’ve come across the Danish term “hygge” more than once. For the uninitiated, hygge, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Pronounced “hoo-guh” to us non-Scandinavian commoners, the fact that Danish people are the happiest in the world is reason alone to pay attention to this cultural cornerstone.

If you think the definition sounds all-encompassing, it is, which in itself is a beautiful thing: from tucking into a good book with a cup of tea, to enjoying a deliciously long meal with friends over the warm dim of candlelight, hygge is generally regarded as enjoying the good things in life, surrounded by the people who matter to you. No wonder the rest of the world has embraced this mentality so wholeheartedly – who wouldn’t get behind such a positive, life-affirming lifestyle?

The affinity towards comfort food and feeling snug at home seems like an obvious solution for a Nordic country accustomed to sub-zero temperatures, but over and above this reality, just why are Danes so good at hygge? According to the author of The Little Book of Hygge Meik Wiking, “Danes are aware of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing. After our basic needs are met, more money doesn’t lead to more happiness and, instead, Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.”

Building from that definition, here are 10 ways to master the art of hygge in your life today:

  1. Candles are king, from setting the mood at a dinner party to creating atmosphere while you kick back and watch Netflix. (Case in point: according to the European Candle Association, Danes burn more candles per head than any other country!)
  2. Indulge in what you enjoy, and don’t waste time feeling guilty about doing things that make you happy.
  3. Make time for spending time with loved ones. Danes put utmost value on down time spent with family.
  4. Engage in group reading time with loved ones, as the true expression of hygge is its enjoyment while in the company of others. Hunker down with a book you’ve been meaning to read (but keep putting off!).
  5. Invest in high quality materials to keep you cozy, such as shearling slippers. On the flip side, don’t feel any reservations about slipping on your favorite pair of well-loved sweats after a long day.
  6. Eat porridge, at any time of day – this satisfying and warming dish is served at both breakfast and dinner time in Denmark. Make it into a family activity by serving an array of topping options to DIY your meal.
  7. Stay warm in the winter with proper outerwear, accessories and layering. Danes abide by the Alfred Wainright phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!”
  8. This philosophy also extends to relishing the feeling of warmth on a cold day through a fireplace in the hearth, long bath or sauna session.
  9. Be mindful. There is beauty in even mundane tasks.
  10. Enjoy the outdoors any time of the year. Be it making the most of a fresh snowfall by going cross country skiing with your closest friends or seeking solace around an fireplace by summer’s dusk, being outside as much as possible means squeezing every hygge moment out of a season.
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