On the resources page I reference two books -
Hygge: A celebration of simple pleasures, living the Danish way
By Charlotte Abrahams
The Little Book Of Hygge: The Danish way to live well
By Mike Wiking
Reading these books really struck a chord with me. I 'try' to create meaningful moments in my daily life. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is the Danish term for such a thing.
Last year Denmark ranked number one according to the World Happiness Index. Incorporating hygge-like moments into everyday life is said to attribute to their happiness.
So what is hygge exactly?
Or as Alex Beauchamp from Hygge House puts it "Hygge is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special".
It's a feeling of comfort, security, warmth and relaxation. Of celebrating gentle understated pleasure. It's about being present and totally immersing ourselves in the moment.
Or you could say that it's about feeling content.
An example of having a hygge-like moment is finding pleasure in making your morning coffee. Taking notice of the aroma, the depth of colour as it drips, and the rich taste as you sip it slowly.
Or something as simple as pulling your bed cover up under your chin on a cool night and feeling completely secure and in total comfort.
In a way it involves mindfulness. By noticing the details, appreciating their simplicity, and how harmonious the experience is.
I think the emphasis of hygge is about allowing ourselves to take pleasure in the moment.
We can create these moments - cook a comforting meal, light a candle and so on. But if we are caught up in our thoughts and don't allow ourselves to be present and fully immerse ourselves in the moment, then it's lost. If we critisise the minute imperfections, then it's a missed opportunity to really feel appreciation for the experience.
Many of us unfortunately don't allow ourselves to be mindful of an experience. It's easily done. And I'm no exception.
We just celebrated Easter. My four year old son woke so excited to see the yarn strung from his door handle leading to eggs throughout the house. But I got caught up in a petty argument with my husband about something that I fail to recall now. And that appreciation of the moment of just simply seeing the joy in our children's faces was lost, because I was too in my head at the time. Not to mention the moment losing its magic for our children who had to listen to our bickering.
With life comes stress, obviously. Frustrations and a dose of daily shit that makes it difficult to feel hygge. I'm sure the Danish are no exception and have their fair share of challenges.
I think also that we are too distracted. We allow distraction to consume us - aka smartphones. Our attention is always elsewhere and we are becoming obsessed with a need to know all, immediately. That's a topic for another post. But those damn things are a massive distraction and causing so many missed opportunities in our lives to feel happiness.
Too often I'm tempted by my phone. I have a love/hate relationship with that thing, although lately it's more the latter. Some mornings I'll wait for my coffee at our local cafe and my head is faced down scrolling mindlessly. And I'm not alone. Everyone around me is doing the same. Meanwhile the sky is blue, the morning sun is creeping through the trees, birds are flying from tree-to-tree and it's a beautiful cool autumn morning. But I'm too distracted to notice.
To feel hygge, I believe we need to learn how to separate ourselves from that temptation to criticise. To actively step away from those things that distract us. And to pause, breath and be present for a moment in time.
It takes practice. But little-by-little we can feel hygge, or whatever you wish to call it, in even the most mundane of everyday moments. If only we allow ourselves to appreciate and enjoy them in their simplicity.