Last February a friend of mine who knows about my blog, lent me a really interesting book that opened a new captivating world for me. From reading it, I learnt about the World Happiness Report. I was really intrigued about the results and surprised by them. The World Happiness Report rates happiness according to key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, health, environment and transport, among others. I would have never thought that Nordic countries such as Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway would be rated among the top 5.
Psychologists distinguish different kinds or levels of happiness. This study focused more on “living well”, rather than on “being happy internally” that I associate with the term. I realized that there are different understandings of the concept of happiness. Nevertheless, I still was fascinated about the happiness of the Nordic countries and I wanted to learn more about it. As some of you may have already guessed, the title of the book is “The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well”. Wiking believes that the positive result of the Nordic countries on the World Happiness Report can be attributed to hygge. This being so, Danish and most Scandinavian countries find that the quality of domestic comfort and hygge are some of the most important factors influencing their human lifestyles, wellbeing and happiness.
But, first of all, are you familiar with the term “hygge”? Hygge (pronounced as hoo-ga) is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness with feelings of wellness and contentment. It is worth noting that hygge is an important factor in the Danish culture and lifestyle. The long winter days explain their need to rely on certain home activities to keep them warm, comfortable and cozy to face the harsh weather. I first thought that there was some emptiness in this hygge phenomenon. If you are not acquainted with the term you may also ask yourself how can you build real happiness from candles, blankets, cushions, comfy socks and hot chocolate. In my opinion, these results explain that there is a close relationship between domestic comfort and well-being with happiness.
Wiking explains in his book, that you know hygge when you feel it. And when I started reading about it, I realized that it is true and that I loved hygge before I knew there is a Danish term for this feeling of coziness. Hygge is essentially an attitude. It implies to slow down and savour the moment. It is a life lesson in mindfulness because you have to be present to experience hygge. Hygge is in my opinion a technology-free philosophy. It means disconnecting to connect with those around you. Smartphones have great qualities but sometimes they become a distraction to connect with those who are actually near us. This Danish term teaches us to have that connection with yourself, people around you and your surroundings. You experience more hygge when you share it with your closest friends or family. I like the double meaning of “being present”. You live in the moment and you become present for those around you, giving them your full attention.
Hygge can be found everywhere because you create it. In the book I mentioned before, you can find a detailed guide of essential things to take with you when you travel. It is like replicating a homey atmosphere somewhere else. For me, home is hygge and my work as a homemaker is creating happiness. I wish my home will always mean happiness for my family, even if there are no candles or cushions for all. Happiness based on the gratitude of loving and being loved.