My daughter recently read the book “The Little Book of Hygge," Danish Secrets to Happy Living, written by Meik Wiking. She read it cover to cover and was deeply inspired to put it into practice. Hygge, pronounced "hyooguh", is defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”. Originated in Denmark, Hygge is regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture.
On a cold winter’s night, my daughter loves nothing more than to wrap herself in a cozy warm housecoat, light a candle, make herself a cup of hot cocoa topped with a swirl of whipped cream. Then she sits by the fire, just sipping and savoring. She does this intentionally, delighting in her careful routine of enjoying the present moment. Hygge is not necessarily done as a self indulgence per se, but with appreciation for each step of a self-nurturing activity. It is taking the time for appreciating, slowing down and paying attention to the simple pleasure of doing something for no other reason, than to enjoy it. Hygge, essentially then, is living in the moment and recognizing that there is abundant comfort and joy being offered to us by simply being at home.
With all that is going in the world today, it occurred to me that my daughter is really on to something here. We are all spending a lot more time at home, and while we are here, we may as well take advantage of it. Until recently, many of us were so busy on any given day, that the idea of slowing down and engaging in a bit of Hygge, was unrealistic and out of reach. There were dishes to be washed, kid’s basketball games to attend, and laundry piled to the ceiling because we hadn't been at home a single night that week - remember those days? For many of us, our worlds had been spinning so fast for so long, that we didn’t even know how to slow down, let alone relish the simple comforts of home life.
With the onset of Covid-19, we have not only unexpectedly found ourselves at home, but with more time on our hands than usual. Additionally, many of us are fraught with worries about our family’s health and financial stability. That said, why not make the best of the situation by recognizing and embracing all the comforts that slowing down and being at home has to offer? Perhaps a little self-nurturing is just what many of us need right now, and we finally have the time to engage in it, guilt free.
In practicing the concept of Hygge, we are practicing living thoughtfully and in the moment rather than missing out on what is going on right now.
This is a good thing.
If you like to cook, make a pot of your favorite homemade soup and bake a loaf of bread to go with it – give yourself and your family a little comfort food. As you chop the vegetables, do it mindfully, and enjoy each step of the process. Don’t let your mind wander elsewhere to anxieties about tomorrow or ruminations about yesterday, stay present, don’t hurry, and don't worry. Appreciate each step. Let the aroma of the soup permeate your home and savor its delicious fragrance.
Keep in mind that the experience of Hygge can be enhanced by taking steps to ensure that the space in which you are performing your activity in, supports you. A clean and orderly kitchen or an organized and functional garden shed offers a more pleasurable Hygge experience than a cluttered area will. Not only will you have an inviting space to perform your activity in, but you will have ample space to work on or in. You will also have everything you need at your fingertips without having to search for anything.
Coincidentally, since your stuck at home, you may find that you finally have the time to complete some of those home organizing and cleaning projects that you have been putting off for so long. When you are done, engaging in a little Hygge, in your freshly cleaned and organized space is actually a perfect way to reward yourself and celebrate a job well done.
Other examples of Hygge might be; relishing in a long, hot bath, or perhaps doing some gardening. It can be as simple as making a pot of your favorite herbal tea and reading a good book or savoring a cup of coffee on the front porch, or it can be as engaging as crafting your own beer or creating a scrap book. It's whatever delights you. The key, is to perform these activities with a new perspective and appreciation for the simple enjoyment of doing them.
By being intentional, and savoring each step of an activity instead of performing these things blindly, we engage in the spirit of Hygge. As we infuse gratitude and presence into the everyday activities we do at home, we reap the benefits of enjoying all the simple pleasures that being at home has to offer.
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.