I know, I know, I’m about a year later on the whole hygge trend. In the fall of 2016 I saw hygge related things splashed across blogs, Instagram accounts, and bookstores everywhere I looked, but the lack of any actual information as to what it is kept me from paying any attention to it. However, after coming across How To Hygge the British Way, I was intrigued and decided to request The Little Book of Hygge from the library. I am about halfway through and I must say, it’s given me a lot of thoughts!
So, hygge. Perhaps a little difficult to pronounce (and wrap our heads around) for those of us not familiar with Danish language and culture, hygge is finding pleasure and happiness in the simple rituals and cozy moments of life. Meik Viking, the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute (yes, that is a real thing), approaches the concept from a personal standpoint, but also a sociological standpoint. I am really enjoying the ever so slightly academic approach, as I think that it is really making me think more about what I’m reading! As someone who tends to get lost in stress- to the point where I am physically and mentally unwell- hygge is a particularly interesting concept.
The Opposite of Hygge
Hello! I am the Historian, and I’m about as Type-A as they come! I’m a perfectionist who will spend hours upon hours perfecting something until it must be done with, and even then, I’m probably still unhappy with at least two things. I often have the thought process, “how can I possibly relax when I have X, Y, and Z to do?” Hygge is all about finding the slow and relaxing way of doing and enjoying things, and it is quite different than I am used to.
I’ve decided to make myself a routine before going to bed- an hour before bed, I do ten to twenty minutes of light yoga, and then read a physical book until it’s time to go to bed. Comfy socks for sleeping, extra pillows for reading, the whole bit. While it’s only been a week, and some nights haven’t been the whole routine, it is nice to know that I’ve set aside time to really do nothing. Paired with my evening walk, I am noticing a difference in my stress levels when I go to bed!
Why Does This Exist?
This is just a personal theory of mine (that might show up later in the book??), but I think that hygge has much to do with winter and your climate. Meik discusses similar schools of thought in Canada (our hominess), Germany, and the Netherlands- all places that have at least somewhat cold winters where SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) may be a larger issue. Danes largely associate hygge with being at home, and you have to enjoy your home when it’s too cold to spend huge amounts of time outside.
I have read the section on hygge food, and I think that’s a European thing. Eating hygge is allowing yourself to indulge in candy, cakes, and other delicious but perhaps not so good for you foods*- if you live in Europe where walking is a huge mode of transportation, this works. However, in North America, our cities aren’t necessarily set up to walk everywhere, and self control isn’t known to be a North American trait.
(*It is also making enjoying slow made foods that are more about the making than the eating, ie. jams, stews, breads.)
Can I Hygge?
I should be finished reading The Little Book of Hygge by the end of the week. I’m going to try and work hygge into my life from now until Christmas- four months to see if this Danish way of life leads to a happier and calmer Historian! What I’ve really taken away thus far is that hygge is largely a social practice- hygge is not typically you sitting with a book, a mug of tea, and a cozy throw (as Instagram would have you believe), but rather spending time with those you love and enjoying these things together! Denmark is consistently rated the happiest country in the world, so maybe there is something to it….
Have you read The Little Book of Hygge? What do you think of hygge?