On the Path to Happiness: Hygge

This post is the first off (hopefully) much more to come about archiving happiness. And to help me with that, I’m going to travel throughout the world to find traditions and/or activities that make people happier. I’m taking this journey through books in order to learn new cultures and people. This time is Denmark, with The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, the president of the Happiness Research Institute.

Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.

Benjamin Franklin

Meik ends the book with this quote which I believe sums up not just hygge but how you can conquer happiness in your own life. For me, every single human being as one dream in common, happiness. Although to archive it each one has a different way. Some might what to be rich, other to have a big family or a beautiful house, or maybe that latest model sports car… Whatever brings happiness to you, it’s the ultimate goal in life. Maybe you can’t see it, but you deep down are searching for happiness. And that’s when books like this come into play. They make you think and rethink your life, about your choices or maybe just remembering the past.

I had the best hours reading this book. I read it from cover to cover in the hope to learn or even discover the secret of how to be happy. For some reason, no one seems to discover why Danish is considered one of the happiest or even the happiest nation in the world. And why do you ask? Well, I don’t know! On my mind, I believe their culture takes a very important part since they kept traditions through generations. It isn’t a perfect country, it has its own problem like any other, although they still manage to feel happy. The primary reason, and what this book is all about, is Hygge. If you never heard about it, it’s ok, I just knew this was a thing at the beginning of the year.

I discovered this book through social media, more specifically Instagram. The cover is gorgeous and for some reason, I made my mind to buy it. I usually don’t even buy this type of books, so I’m not entirely sure why I thought it was a smart purchase. Once I’ve open it, I immediately connected with the content. It sounds weird but if you are all about cosy times, blankets, socks and feet by the fire, you will have the exact same connection. Although I had no idea what hygge was or even how to pronounce it – a real pain in the a**. To help with that you can always watch the Carlsberg advertise and hear Mads Mikkelsen saying it. It helps believe me. But more than knowing how to pronounce it, I wanted to discover this habit/activity that sounded right up of my ally.

Hygge doesn’t have an exact definition not literally or physically. It isn’t the same to everyone but it produces the same feeling, the same sensation. On the book, you have studies with different people and some of them fell more hyggelig (having a hygge moment) when there’s a thunderstorm while others don’t. Although that doesn’t mean they are having less comfort/cosiness than the others. Different people prefer different situations. For example, every book lover has its own “perfect” scenario to read a book, especially around this time of the year. For me is by the end of the day, with some comfy clothes on, wrapped in a blanket, sat on the sofa and reading while sipping a hot chocolate. To top that only with the fire on, but that should be harder since we don’t use the fireplace in the living room. My heart starts to jump just at the thought of it. When I think of cosiness this is what it comes to my mind.

Although when you think about the happier moments of your life, they usually are around other people. And this is when hygge becomes much more than your perfect reading spot. Just a simple dinner with your family or friends can be hyggelig. What do you have to do? Just share, cook together, have a chilled evening and don’t worry about anything. Comfort and socialization are just two “rules” of 10 presented in this book making hygge so complex to describe. For instants, you don’t need to be in your home to be having a hyggelig time. The book actually has a chapter dedicated to various places to visit, in Copenhagen, that are very hygge.

On a quick note, this book actually features some traditional recipes and ideas if you want to do a hyggelig dinner. And also a full chapter of the most hyggelig time of the year: Christmas. It has anything you need to know about how Danish celebrate this joyous season.

As I’m writing this, I’m set on my chair by my window, wrap in my blanket and hearing the cars passing by on the wet floor. The sun has already seat down and I’m being transported back into the past, on the winter days where I would stay at my grandmother’s house waiting for my mother to pick me up, at the end of the day. All of us sat on the couch, warm and illuminated just by the light of the tv. And this moment of nostalgia is making me happy, leaving me with a little smile while I remember this priceless moment. Back then, we were just watching tv and casually having a chat. Even though, this breaks one of the manifest “rules”, in those days I felt so happy/cosy making it hyggelig for me.

But hygge is not always connected with bad weather, low light, and chilling evenings. Each one of us has other activities that make us feel happy, some might be related to other people and others don’t. The point is to archive that sensation of pure pleasure from the small moments in life. Crafting is very therapeutic for me the same way cooking and gardening is. It takes a small part of me like creativity or care – in case of the plants – to create or grow something and it’s gratifying. I don’t want to say that doing these things are so hygge because they probably aren’t. Although for me they make me happy. And that’s the whole point, to look back on each day and think if I was more times happy than sad.

So I’m taking over the concept of hygge and making it my own. Maybe some of the principals won’t make me feel cosy or the cultural differences starts to get in the way. Whatever the reason is, I’m going to make my own hygge. Fill it with everything that makes me happy, cosy, warm, light-hearted and put away what I don’t like. For respect, I can’t say it’s hygge since I don’t know anything about the Danish way of living – keep in mind I just read this book – but I can call it my cosy routine.

My point isn’t to “steal” from other cultures but to learn new perspectives with them. With Denmark, I learned the importance of comfort and family. Now I’m going to travel to another country and see what they have to offer. It’s no secret that for some reason the northern European countries are on the top of the happiest places, and the next one that caught my eye was Sweden. I don’t even remember how I cross path with this “new” word but I need to find out more. I’m talking about lagom, don’t ask me how to pronounce because I don’t know anything more than this. I can’t say for sure when the next post will be up. Probably will take a while but it will be about lagom.