Each year, the World Happiness Index surveys a wide range of people from different countries all over the world to see which country has the happiest people. In 2017, the winner was Norway, followed closely by Denmark. Even though Denmark lost first place to Norway, it still ranks highly on all the main factors found to encourage happiness: freedom, generosity, caring, health, income and good government. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen boils it all down to the concept of “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-ga”).
Wiking himself comes from Denmark and he believes that Danish people have been consistently on the top happiness rankings due to hygge. Hygge doesn’t require learning, lifestyle adaptation or purchasing something to get hygge. Unlike feng shui you can’t purchase a “hygge bedroom” and unlike diets, no “hygge food” will make you instantly happy.
Hygge just needs a conscious appreciation and the capability to be mindful of the present. Hygge is mainly a ‘feeling’ of cosiness, happiness, contentment, security, familiarity, comfort, intimacy and simplicity.
Danish people created the hygge concept because they were trying to make the cold and dark winter much better, so they do simple acts like lighting up a candle with a hot cup of coffee in the morning or a simple home cooked dinner meal eaten together with friends that create a huge difference to their spirits. So, basically, Danish people enjoy winter and look forward to it!
Danish people see domestic and personal lives as a kind of art form, instead of drudgery to get away from. If you’ve ever comfortably read a book indoors on a rainy day or sipped a cup of hot cocoa on a cold day, you have probably experienced hygge without being aware of it.
To achieve optimum hygge in your own home, get a warm drink while wearing your most comfortable sweater and check the tips below:
1/8 Warm it up
Imagine a hot cup of tea in front of a flickering fire. But if you don’t have a fireplace, don’t worry: you can still create that warm and cosy vibe by putting several candles of different sizes and shapes. The Danes recommended at least five candles to truly experience proper hygge. The famous Yankee candles are also good choices as they have a variety of heavenly smells that will instantly set the mood for hygge. However, if these are too costly for you, you can get some affordable tea lights that will do the trick for you. The Danes are also obsessed with lighting, and they often associate hygge with candles. They link candles to a kind of emotional happiness and cosiness.
2/8 Soft and fluffy texture
Texture is also important in hygge. Surrounding ourselves with soft and comfortable items like knitted fleece blankets, fluffy and plush pillows, soft rugs, and a comfortable sofa will create a relaxing environment. Cosy and warm interiors are necessary when it comes to bringing hygge into our life. Chunky cushions and fluffy rugs made from the softest materials such as cashmere are perfect for the hygge setting.
3/8 Make your home filled with objects that have a story
Instead of buying meaningless objects that have no story behind them, decorate your place with furniture and objects that are meaningful to you. Maybe things that had been gifted to you, objects that you have purchased during travelling or antiques with a history behind them. These things will create a hygge environment in your home. Home itself is also an important part of hygge concept. That is why Danes are obsessed with good design when it comes to homes. Danish people also have the widest living space per capita in Europe.
4/8 Hot drinks
A tea kettle is your best companion when it comes to the hygge lifestyle. Hot cocoa or hot coffee are also part of the lifestyle. When you’re outside, get a cute travel mug and sip warm tea or other warm beverages. Hygge is about getting those things that make you say “ahh”, and is there anything greater than a rich cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and colourful sprinkles? How about when it's hot outside? No worries. You can always make a glass of iced lemon tea.
5/8 Host a virtual hygge brunch
Get-togethers should not be limited to summer gazebos and restaurants. As we are doing social distancing now, there's nothing wrong to invite some of your friends and loved ones to a virtual brunch.
6/8 Bath Ritual
Imagine a relaxing bath with your favourite aromatherapy oil and bubbles from your favourite soap brand. Add in a few candles and big fluffy towels to complete the blissful event. Add in some bath bombs, bath salts, essential oils and make the bath extra bubbly. Make your bath time a situation that essentially melts away the whole week’s stress and makes you feel extra warm and fuzzy inside.
7/8 Treat yourself with happy books, music and movies
Indulge in all things happy: things that bring you joy and laughter. Rom-coms like Love Actually and The Proposal or inspirational movies like Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption will leave you feeling good at the end of the movie. Good and cheerful music from Pharrell and Bruno Mars will definitely lift up your spirits. Certain books by Mitch Albom and Jojo Moyes will leave you feeling hopeful in love and life.
8/8 Get some sunlight!
One of the main causes of depression is thought to be a lack of vitamin D, which comes mostly from the sun. We understand how hard it can be to get enough sunlight especially if you are working indoors, so get some sunlight whenever possible by going outside during lunchtime, and absorb the sunlight while sitting on nearby park while enjoying your lunch if it is possible. If it’s not, just walking around the block after lunch is enough to absorb the sun for your body. Use the weekend by walking around the neighborhood listening to music to get as much sun as possible.