I am a massive fan of lifestyle guides. Any book promising to make me seem anything other than British is right up my street, and a few weeks ago I found myself strangely drawn to a little Danish lifestyle guide on Hygge.
For those of you that don’t know, Hygge is a Danish well-being concept that loosely translates as cosiness. Its claimed to be the reason behind the Danes dizzying high levels of happiness, so I thought that it was something I could really on board with.
However as I read all about it, I started to get really confused. Surely there was more to Hygge than just turning the lights down?
I decided the only sensible thing was to plan a visit to Copenhagen and search for Hygge myself.
As soon as I landed in the city I was on full on Hygge hunting mode. Danish lifestyle guides will tell you that Hygge comprises of Cosiness, togetherness, food and the simple things, but I thought surely there had to be more to it than that. I headed to a little cafe in the city centre because the cold weather had made me absolutely starving and I ordered a bowl of tomato soup.
The food was warming and on each table were little tea lights, giving the place a cozy ambience. I looked around the restaurant at everyone socializing and it seemed very Hygge, but it was also no different from what I do at home with my friends, and the large bill definitely didn’t make me feel very happy.
Copenhagen’s streets are beautiful. They’re romantic and colourful and even a little spooky, maybe even a little Hygge, but I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting at. I went to the Design Museum and admired the brilliant simplicity of Danish design. If celebrating the simple things is integral to Hygge than this is no clearer than its decor, but there’s a trend for minimalistic furnishings at home so I was a little confused on where we were going wrong.
As the day came to an end I’d completely knackered myself out searching for evidence of Hygge. Then it came to me: if Hygge is a Danish mindfulness concept, then how can it be photographed? In fact by searching for Hygge I’d missed the very point itself, because Hygee has less to with what’s around you and more to do with yourself.
So maybe sometimes we don’t live Danishly. Sometimes we rush, we consume and we argue, but we don’t need a book on Hygge to tell us that we need to slow down. I know that anyway. I don’t think that I’d get through the winter months if I didn’t get exercise a little mindfulness, I don’t think any of us would.
So it seems that you don’t need to go and buy a whole load of candles and a whole load of lifestyle guides to live Danishly. Just slow down, make a cup of tea and see your friends because your life’s already Hygge, you just didn’t have a word for it.