If you love to snuggle up in your favourite sweats and wake up early to bake a red velvet cake in your warmly lit kitchen surrounded by the plants that you water every day while your favourite music softly plays on your phone that you dance to as the rich aroma of the cake in the oven filled your home, then you're living the Danish Hygge lifestyle without even knowing about it.
The term Hygge doesn't have a direct translation (the beauty of the languages!) but the closest English translation roughly falls along the lines of finding joy, cozy ambience, comfortable conviviality, well being and happiness in regular daily lives. It originated from a sixteenth-century Norwegian word, "hugga", which means “to comfort” or “to console,” which is related to a very warm English term “hug.” Hygge in its literal sense as well is associated with gratitude, tenderness & relaxation. The author of best selling book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets To Happy Living, and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Mike Wiking elucidates that hygge encompasses everything from “the art of creating intimacy,” to “coziness of the soul,” and even including “cocoa by candlelight.” According to Wiking, the person can know what true hygge means to them when they feel it. However, a few of the key ingredients are relaxation, togetherness, mindfulness and most importantly, comfort. “The true essence of hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness and it’s basically like a hug, just without the physical touch,” he explains.
Hygge is essentially about keeping things simple; it's about deriving true joy from slow living away from the hustle and the grind. The Hygge, in its essence, encourages people to live a little and not hold back from the things that make them truly happy. Yes, even an extra muffin from the kitchen counts! After the years of hustle and incessant stressful days, no wonder why people are turning to hygge lifestyle more and more as it provides a friendlier and more forgiving lifestyle. One of the reasons why Denmark has continuously been at the top of the yearly list of the world's happiest countries is their massive inclination towards the Hygge lifestyle. There's this Danish tradition of depicting things as hyggelig (hygge-like) like a warm cup of coffee by the window as the rain pours gently. This corner of the home is known as hyggekrog which is essentially a favourite corner of your home where one can get cozy! It is significant to note that while choosing to stay indoors while reading your favourite book with your favourite jazz playlist softly playing in the background is absolutely hygge, choosing to step outside for a long stroll with your loved one is also one of the most significant parts of the Hygge lifestyle.
As we continue to talk about the Hygge lifestyle, it is most certainly important to recognize that Scandinavians are most definitely much more freer to pursue the Hygge lifestyle of finding joy in simple instances in the daily life as majority of the Nordic countries' governments guarantee the basic necessities of their citizens such as the provision of free university education, universal health care, social security and so on. As most of us might agree with the fact that as our basic necessities are fulfilled, the hustle doesn't not appeal to us anymore but the little things in life do.
Hygge has the nature of subjectivity, it doesn't have a rigid rulebook that you have to follow in order to live it. You can find Hygge in the quiet library as the librarian welcomes you with a warm smile and helps you find your favourite book. You can find Hygge in the newly opened bakery that almost nails your favourite recipe of the blueberry muffins that your grandma used to bake for when you were little and used to move to her place for a good part of the summer break. Hygge is about the gentle warmth and the constant purring of your cat that fills you with inexplicable endearment.
Hygge is not about what you specifically do to live it, rather how Hygge feels to you in your own unique way. It can be defined differently according to the distinct taste and traits of a variety of people. Most importantly, it is about the sense of community that gives one the will and hope to carry on. It can be felt on a random Sunday morning as the kitchen echoes with the continuous chatter and laughter of your loved ones as they cook a home cooked meal with hours of preparation filled with love. Afterall, Hygge is all about the warmth that your heart feels in a cold world through simple things in your daily, mundane life.
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Written by Ayusshi