The first time I heard the word Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-gah’) was when I was in Copenhagen about 10 years ago. It was a particularly frosty December, and I was a broke student in one of the most expensive cities in the world. However this did not stop me from being completely captivated by the style and charm of the Danish capital, and as a result of the bitter weather most of my poor student earnings were spent hopping from one cosy (yet incredibly stylish) café to the next, downing mugs of sweet cocoa and spicy glogg. Little did I know I was embracing hygge to its full capacity – cosiness, togetherness and enjoying simple things. Even when sitting outside the Danes maximize hygge and I happily joined in, wrapping myself in the large sheepskin lined blankets they have for outdoor cafes and snuggling up to fleecy hot water bottles.
Back in Ireland the word hygge started popping into my vocabulary again last year and I started to read up a bit more on it’s meaning. The more I read about it, the more I loved the sense of what the word represented and realized that even though we may not quite have the Danish stature and frustratingly effortless style we are pretty good at hygge here in Ireland. According to Louisa Thomson Brits who has written “The Book of Hygge” it is characterized by “a quality of presence and an experience of togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted and sheltered. Hygge is about being not having”. For many of us it is a feeling that we are already very familiar with but may not be able to put into words.
Many of us have unknowingly been hygge experts for years, following activities that contribute to our sense of well-being, creating comfort and a sense of ease. There are many links to mindfulness, another buzzword these days, and one of the most obvious connections is how both emphasize celebrating the smaller moments in life, things that make you glow inside. Being in the present moment is also crucial to both, in the words of Judith Friedman Hansen “It must be emphasized that hygge entails commitment to the present moment and a readiness to set distractions aside”. Some examples of simple hygge friendly activities are sitting in front of a warm fire, making a cup of tea, enjoying a conversation with a friend or cuddling on the couch with your dog. Given that Denmark is frequently ranked as the happiest country in the world (you can read more about why here) I think that we should definitely take a leaf out of their hygge book. With candlelit evenings, wrapping up under wooly blankets and spending more time with our loved ones to look forward to suddenly those long dark winter evenings don’t seem so bad!
For anyone that is interested my mindful yoga and relaxation workshop on Thursday 10th November will be centered around the theme of hygge. You can book your place here