For many of us, winter is all about cold winds and rainy days. But for me, it is my favourite time of year. You can drag out your woolly socks, snuggle on the couch, and of course make endless pots of steamy loose leaf tea. That feeling of being safe, warm and comfortable is the best, and when I feel true contentment. The Danish have a word for this - 'Hygge'. Pronounced Hoo-gah, it is the about an atmosphere and an experience. It is the feeling of home. And according to the people in Denmark, it is the key to happiness. With the world as it is, we all need more of this in our lives. How do we make this happen? So while the rain is lashing outside, I have made a big pot of my favourite Elevenses, and snuggled up to some more research.
One of the best books I have read on this subject is "The Little Book of Hygge - the Danish Way to Live Well" by Meik Wiking. As stated by Wiking, the word 'hygge' originates from a Danish word meaning 'well-being'. The book answers all the questions surrounding this concept, and how it is linked to happiness.
Comfort, Presence & Gratitude
It was of no surprise to me to read that when asked, most Danes associated hot drinks ie tea and coffee, with hygge. There is something comforting about holding a hot cuppa in your hands, and even better when that experience is shared with others. Not only does this give us pleasure, but the making and steeping of loose leaf tea brings us into the present moment, and focused on the here and now. Those feeling of gratitude naturally flow from here, as we are able to 'take it all in'. Comfort also means getting comfy, wearing clothing that you feel most relaxed in. So yes you can wear your big baggy jumpers tracksuit pants and your favourite pair of woolly socks. You might not want to be seen in public like that, but for your feelings of hygge, it is perfect.
Soft lighting is a must in the hygge world, so turn down the lights, add a lamp and light a candle or two. And it is even better if you are sitting by an open fire, in your favourite chair. It is about creating an atmosphere that is rustic and simple, using natural materials and furnishings. Creating an atmosphere that is cosy and inviting is not limited to the home. The same concept can be applied to places where you work or meet with others.
Being with the special people in your life certainly contributes to our feelings of well-being. They are your tribe, and there is no need for drama, just the ease of being together. You can spend this time sharing a pot of tea, playing a board game, or indulging in a sweet treat. It's all about feeling good.
Winter is well and truely with us. And like me, I am sure that there are lots of evenings when you arrive home, cold, tired and don't feel like going anywhere. For those nights, you might want to consider having an emergency hygge kit. This will include:
- your favourite tea (and at night time I love a cup of Ravishing Red Rooibos tea!)
- candles with a scent that you love
- good quality chocolate to treat yourself
- your favourite book
- a good pair of woolly socks ( a must!)
- a comfy blanket
Hygge is about finding those simple moments of happiness and preserving them. And doing this each and every day. For in the end, it is not the big events that always make us the happiest. It is those small measures of positive emotions that will help us the most to live well.
Thank you to Meik Wiking and his "The Little Book of Hygge - the Danish Way to Live Well" (2016).