Since visiting Copenhagen last July, I have found myself completely captivated by the Danes’ lust for chic design, cool composure and aspiration to live well.
Sent with love and well wishes, Meik Wiking graced Britain last year with the release of his best seller The Little Book of Hygge. The Little Book of ha-wha, you ask? The Little Book of “hue-gah”: The Danish Way To Live Well.
Hygge is a Norwegian turned Danish term used to describe and encourage “a feeling of home” and creation of “atmosphere and experience” in our everyday lives. Essentially, we should take more time to appreciate and indulge in the comfort of the simple things life has to offer, as opposed to limiting our enjoyment of pleasurable activities.
But why care what the Danes do? Well, the Danes’ reputation for happiness has become an established identity within itself as they are rated as the happiest country in the world. The Danes also boast a very high quality of life that is not just fixated on income or another fad diet, and this has lead many Britain’s to now jump on the train, destination: happy.
So, how does one hygge? Well, now the smug owner of Wiking’s well-being guide myself, I’ll share with you some of the simple secrets:
No matter what the occasion, have candles everywhere: Candles are the first lesson in hygge, so it’s important to note that “Scented candles are considered artificial, and Danes prefer natural and organic products”, and to put it bluntly “no candles, no hygge”. Furthermore dim lighting is key, and the Danes equally love their lamps.
Make quality time for loved ones: To know if you’ve got relationship status hygge, time spent with loved ones should feel “like a good hug – but without the physical contact”. Wiking’s research into happiness has concluded that “The more satisfied people are with their social relationships, the happier they are in general”. Moreover, at the centre of a Danish home you’re highly likely to find a dining table, designed to accommodate family and friends for frequent social meals.
Home is the “hygge headquarters”: The Danish are known for their design (oh that enviable Scandic-chic) and “tend to put a lot of effort and money into making their homes hyggelige” (aka homey and intimate). Danes therefore create a cosy yet fresh living environment, because “Home is central to social life in Denmark”. Unlike us Brits who love to go out, the Danes make their homes the place to be.
Less is more: Minimalism is also key, which you can instantly recognise from Danes’ wardrobe attire and everyday appearance, to their interior design. To get the hygge look pull your focus towards scarfs, layers, casual hair, and most importantly black, so “aim for a look that would be fitting for Karl Lagerfeld’s funeral: stylish but monochrome”.
Eat well to live well: The Danes are treat eaters and don’t fret about indulging (they’re crazy for cake) because “hygge is about being kind to yourself – and giving yourself, and each other, a break from the demands of healthy living”, while still remaining balanced. As opposed to Maccy Ds and KFCs Danes prefer to indulge in more homely comfort foods – they love their meat and potatoes, pastries, and crafted open sandwiches.
Get on your bike: It’s a very easy argument to suggest that Denmark was built for bikes, given what seems to be an on-going flat landscaped county. When visiting Copenhagen cycling was a huge highlight for me, and it’s not hard to understand why it’s so popular – it’s “an easy way to weave a bit of exercise into our daily routine and is environmentally (and wallet-) friendly”.
All sound quite straightforward? That’s because hygge really is. It’s an underestimated concept, the idea of being happy, and for me the Danes have nailed it by extracting their primary happiness from life’s simple occurrences that can be incorporated into everyday life – it is that easy.
Over the last few months we Brits have predominately been occupied with a Brexit backlash and NHS crisis, so frankly I think we could all benefit from a bit of positive well-being. Anyone curious about hygge, why not test the waters with a few home essentials: a hyggekrog (nook), a fireplace, candles (this cannot be stressed enough), wooden furniture, books (no, not kindles), ceramics, shop vintage, and fill your home with cushions and blankets.
If you’re still not sold on hygge, my only next logical step is to implore you to visit Denmark and see for yourself. Check out some of my top recommendations for Copenhagen HERE. It really is a beautiful and vibrant city that I cannot wait to visit again.