You might have heard that Danes are considered to be the happiest people in the world. If you did, you might have wondered as I did how it could be that people living in a relatively small, rainy, dark and cold country can be so happy?
I am quite sure it can be linked with Denmark’s economic welfare, but there are other countries in Scandinavia which have similar conditions. So why Denmark?
While I was visiting Copenhagen, I got lucky with the weather in the city. Warm and sunny! For me everything looked so relaxed, lovely and comforting. My friend called it “Hygge”! For the remainder of that weekend, regardless of what we were doing, my friend was often using that word, “Hygge”. I guess it was so “Hygge” that I even decided to buy a book dedicated to describe the Danish born concept.
What does “Hygge” mean?
The word’s origin comes from the Norwegian language and means well-being. These days “Hygge” means so much more. Happiness Research Institute explains that it plays a strong role into why Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world for many years.
Hygge is about creating intimacy, cosiness and pleasure. It’s not about the things we have, it’s rather about experiences and the atmosphere we create. It is also about creating moments together with your beloved friends and family while finding joy and gratitude in simple things, such as treating yourself and others with good food and good company.
How to create Hygge in your life?
While everyone can interpret Hygge differently, Danes have their own way. It starts with light. Candles are mostly associated with Hygge and apparently Danes burn the highest number of candles per head in Europe.
Light is not just about candles, but also lamps. No surprise as Danish home design is renown and beloved across the globe. Good lighting at home is a must, preferably offered by a catching design lamp. Additionally it is recommended to have few smaller lamps placed in different corners across your living space, instead of just one big lighting source.
Togetherness is another important attribute of the Hygge lifestyle. People tend to feel happy when spending time with their close friends and relatives, as we are social creatures after all. It is interesting that Danes prefer small groups of friends, typically three to four.
So imagine yourself in a nicely lit environment, meeting your closest friends. There is still one omission…you guessed it: Hygge is also about good food and drinks. Especially sweet pastries, cakes and pies are hyggelige. The rule of thumb is: the longer it takes to make a dish, the more hyggelige it is. Because Denmark has a cold climate most of year, the most hyggelige drinks are warm, such as hot chocolate or mulled wine. Yummy!
While Danes prefer simple clothing, they put a lot of attention and effort into decorating their home in hygge spirit. It’s a must to have “hyggekrog” – a place where you love to put a blanket on, grab a cup of tea and read a book. It’s also important to have a fireplace, wooden attributes, blankets, things from nature, candles and of course books. Danish people value vintage and ceramics because they always have a story to tell.
While most people associate hygge happening inside home, you can also enjoy it outside. Spend time outdoors, surrounded by nature, enjoying casual things like a cozy evening close to a bonfire or fishing at your local lake. Danish “Hygge” is a great idea to be happy!
If you would like to get more ideas and background about the Hygge way of life, I highly recommend to read the book on the subject from Meik Wiking, entitled; “The little book of HYGGE: the Danish way to live well”. I find it a great gift for a friend or family member. Who wouldn’t like to have more Hygge in their life?
Can we create Hygge environment in offices?
Of course! Candles, cakes, sofas are the natural attributes, but you could also think of creating a meditation or board game room. And, most important, respect the working hours of your employees. It’s pretty common to see empty offices at 4pm in Denmark, as everyone is heading home to have hygge time with their family.
Hygge lifestyle done the Danish way doesn’t sound like “rocket science”, especially as everyone can make it their own. What I love about Hygge is that it’s not the materialistic things which create happiness but joyful moments and life experiences with your beloved ones. I wish you to create your own Hygge style and if you did, please do share your experiences in the comments below.