I've just finished reading the Little Book of Hygge. It's interesting, covering why Denmark is often considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world. Is it down to Hygge and if so, what is it and how do we bring a bit of it into our lives?
It's difficult to explain and the author quoted one of the greatest philosophers of all time - Winnie the Pooh with his "How do you spell love? You don't spell it. You feel it" as an example. As an aside, I was reading some of Pooh's other quotes (OK, maybe they were written by A.A. Milne) and they are truly inspirational!
Some of the words that I would use to explain "Hygge" are cosiness, the feel good factor, simple pleasures, warmth, atmosphere, togetherness, experience, homeliness and comfort. Not sure if there is one word that encompasses all! Other people may have a completely different view. And then it is also used in different ways - as a feeling, an adjective, a verb, a noun, a state.....
All this "happiness" stuff is really popular at the moment, but it's not new. I learnt that Robert Kennedy pointed out over 40 years ago that "The Gross National Product measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile". And you've got to love a country like Bhutan that measure itself by its Gross National Happiness index!
So what else did I pick up from this book and learn about Hygge? Well Danes love the following (not by any means a complete list) and believe they are good Hygge:
- Candles (and mood lighting - but they appear very, very fond of candles)
- Ugly woollen socks (the uglier, the Hygge-lier?)
- Gloeg (mulled wine - who doesn't?)
- Coffee (tea and hot chocolate with marshmallows seems to be up there too)
- Blankets (including reindeer skin ones to run your hands over)
- Christmas (must be because it's mulled wine and cake season)
- Cake and sweets (Conditori La Glace is the oldest and probably best and in offices after meetings, they have "cake watch" to checkout leftover offerings)
- Books (and curling up with a good book in a little cosy nook wearing ugly woollen socks, a cup of coffee in hand, cake on a plate and a blanket would appear to be very Hygge).