Hygge, pronounced hoo-ga, is at the cornerstone of Danish life. The word Hygge is derived from the Norwegian word for “well-being.” Some aspects of Hygge are having a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being.
Hygge is part of the Danish secret to living a happy life. It is all about setting the right ambiance, mood, and environment. Then it is about bringing in the people you care about to experience Hygge together.
Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institution in Copenhagen. He studies what makes people happy for a living! Not a bad gig… Mr. Wiking discovered that there are ten essentials that comprise his Hyggeligt itinerary.
While all of these are essential for Hygge, I am only going to focus on a few. If you are interested in learning about all of them I suggest you read Meik Wiking’s book titled The Little Book of Hygge. It is an easy read and will make you a believer of the Hygge ways.
The topics that I am going to focus on are what I believe to be the most important and why. I will be focusing on presence, equality, harmony, and comfort.
Before we dive into my top five most important aspects of Hygge I want to provide you some insight into the “belongingness hypothesis” which Wiking introduces in his book. The “belongingness hypothesis” explains how we have “a basic need to feel connected with others” (Meik Wiking). According to Kahneman, the author of, A Survey Method for Characterizing Daily Life Experiences: The Day Reconstruction Method, compares the happiness quotient to the hours per day of doing that activity. Let me explain… sex, socializing after work, and dinner provide the most happiness to people who took part in the study. However, they spent the least amount of time doing these activities. They spent most of their time working and watching tv which only provided a small amount of happiness. Here is a table to help you understand:
Okay lets get into the specifics now.
Presence is the first of my top five essentials. If you are constantly fixating on the “perfect” lives of the instagram influencers and the crazy party your friends went to last night you will never appreciate where you currently are. The picture from your friends party last night is only a second of the night. The entire party could have been horrific but they got the one photo they needed to convince all their instagram followers that they are having the time of their lives.
Hygge focuses on the present. It is not for anyone else but the people who are experiencing it with in the moment. This means you should put the phone down. Disconnect for a while. It lends some perspective on what you really care about.
Equality is my second essential. Think of all the interesting stories you could have heard and learned from if you had stopped talking. Sometimes we think “me” over “we” but Hygge is about the opposite. In order to have a Hyggeligt time the mentality must be “we” over “me”.
This does not mean you can not share your stories and feelings, but it does mean that you should be conscious that there are others in the room and they may have something to offer to the conversation as well. Listen to them. Learn from them. You have two ears and one mouth, spend the night behaving in that ratio and all will go well.
Harmony is in my opinion the most important one. This is about being with others without competing. If you are enjoying Hygge with someone then you are already friends and enjoy each other’s company. The harmony comes when no one is bragging or taking too much of the spot light.
The essence of harmony comes from realizing that your stories or opinions are no more important than anyone else’s.
Lastly there is Comfort. Pillows, candles, blankets, a nice chair and a warm drink. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the company. This is a time of relaxation and rejuvenation. You can slouch and make yourself comfortable. There is nothing else to do and no one else to impress. This time is reserved for relaxation and being comfortable!
In conclusion Hygge is something that can be easily incorporated into your life. Hygge will bring you happiness. Hygge means something different to everyone so you can experiment and treat it however you want to. There is no right way to Hygge, it is just important to Hygge!