What is hygge and how do I get it in my life?

Understand a happier and calmer state of mind

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Words by Lisa Hughes
October 28th, 2016

If it’s possible to envy a whole nation, the Danish would scoop the prize. Not to stereotype or anything but not only do the Danes have impeccable style, they’ve nailed ‘effortless cool’ and we’ve never met one who wasn’t genetically blessed. On top of all that, the nation that invented LEGO – only the greatest toy of all time – also has a little something called ‘hygge’ and we want in on it.

‘Hygge’ (FYI, it’s pronounced a bit like ‘hoo-gah’) translates roughly as ‘cosiness’ and it’s more of a mindset than an actual tangible thing. Even though at least a whopping nine books will be published this year about this Danish delight, you can’t buy hygge in the shop. Likewise, you don’t ‘get’ hygge, you create it.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped people trying to jump on the bandwagon; there’s been a surge in Scandi-themed bars and restaurants in London hoping to inject your soul with a cosy vibe as you sip their overpriced cocktails. Meanwhile, London’s Morley College has even started teaching students how to achieve hygge so this is one wellness trend that everyone wants a slice of.

So by now you might be wondering ‘how do I get in on the hygge action for myself?’ You don’t need to book a flight to Copenhagen (although it’s such a cool city so you probably should). ‘Hygge’, which actually comes from a Norwegian word for “wellbeing”, is all about the little things.

A bit like a hug for the soul, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. Put simply, it’s the art of living well. Living in the moment instead of killing time. Being together and savouring each moment. You get the picture.

To show you just how easy it is, here’s 5 easy ways to create a bit of hygge in your life:

1.  Watch the sunrise or sunset (preferably with someone you love).

2.  Light candles for instant atmosphere.

3.  Throw on a woolly blanket and cosy up at an open fire with a hot chocolate.

4.  Go for a meal with friends you haven’t seen in a long time or have dinner with your whole family (and leave your smartphone in your bag!).

5.  Unwind with a candlelit bath and your favourite fancy bath oils.

Of course, there are a million other ways to create hygge, from interior design ideas to your social life. That Scandi-chic interiors look of wood and tactile faux fur and inviting blankets is all about the hygge, for example.

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Like mindful practice, hygge encourages you to single-task, to focus all your attention on your friend as she describes her latest work woe, instead of Snapchatting your lunch as she talks. It’s about giving in to simple pleasures like really savouring your Friday night glass of vino, to making a ritual of lighting a candle with your dinner or going tech-free at the weekends. These things may be small but the feelgood factor is hard to beat.

Winter and especially the run up to Christmas is pretty much hygge season. Glowing fires, festive lights, holding a warm drink in hand (even if it’s just a red Starbucks PSL), catching up with old friends, watching ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ with the family. Christmas is the ultimate celebration of togetherness so you could say hygge is about sprinkling a little bit of festive magic throughout the year. No wonder the Danes are among the happiest people in the world, right?