The long winter months can take a toll on us. The short days, the cold weather and the feeling of being trapped inside can have a huge impact on our moods. I used to get really depressed during the winter months. The lack of sun would get to me and I would yearn for summer and all the fun things I could do once the weather changed. I would feel stuck, like my life was on hold. I would wait for spring to be happy again. I was just trying to get through the winter, never mind trying to enjoy it. Until I discovered 'Hygge' (pronounced Hoo-ga). Now winter is my favourite time of the year. (Yep, I'm one of those annoying people now.) Hygge does not need to be limited to winter time and can be enjoyed all year round (and should be) but I find it to be especially important during the winter months.
Surprisingly, despite it's extremely cold and long winters, Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world. Hygge is a huge part of Danish culture. They understand how important it is to their happiness and live Hyggelig lives. (Look up images of Copenhagen, it is the epitome of Hygge.)
Hygge is one of those things that can't fully be described but is experienced. When you feel it, you just know it. Meik Wiking describes this Danish concept as the "cosiness of the soul" in his book "The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way To Live Well". It's sitting next to the fireplace reading a book during a thunderstorm. It's sitting around the Christmas tree laughing with your family in cozy pajamas. It's drinking coffee from your favourite mug. It's dancing and singing to live music. It's going on a hike in the snow and connecting to nature then and coming home to drink hot chocolate. It's sharing a bowl of popcorn with someone you love while watching a favourite movie. It's about being completely and fully present and grateful in the simple, happy, cozy and pleasurable moments in life. Hygge just makes the soul happy.
Hygge is all about setting the right atmosphere. Lights play a huge role in living a Hyggelig life. Candles, string lights, lamps, a fireplace add that cozy feeling the soul loves. In the winter I light candles and have white string lights in almost every room of the house. It makes the winter nights so much cozier and happier. It just adds that little magic to our daily lives. Things from the earth (flowers, plants, wood, shells, salt lamps), vintage, antique or handmade items, big wool blankets and pillows all bring Hygge to the home. It's so easy to create a nice Hyggelig atmosphere in the home and once you've done that all you have to do is just enjoy it and be present.
Hygge is about being fully present in these small pleasurable moments. It's about being grateful. It's about feeling harmony and togetherness with a few people you love. Although Hygge may be difficult to explain, it's very easy to live. Setting the right atmosphere for Hygge and choosing Hyggelig activities and then being present and grateful is all you really need to do. Making Hygge part of my life has been really easy and a lot of fun and it's brought me and my family a lot of happiness. I look forward to winter when I can be warm and cozy inside with my family and a good book and just enjoy the little things in life.
If you want to learn more about Hygge and how to implement it into your life then I highly recommend "The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way To Live Well" By Meik Wiking. It's a simple and practical guide to Hygge and is beautifully illustrated. I had never heard of this concept until I read this book and now I'm obsessed with living a Hyggelig life.