On a cold January afternoon in London, The Archer and I popped into nearby Waterloo Station to browse the shops and have a coffee. While there, I came across a book by Danish author Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge. Initially attracted to the illustrations, and secondarily reminded of my interest in Nordic culture, I decided to purchase it.

Nordic countries have some of the harshest of winters. Brutal temperatures and limited daylight may be one of the reasons why hygge is such a prevalent concept. Despite the bitter winter months, Denmark is consistently ranked as the happiest country in the world. Could the concept of hygge, and the everlasting quest to attain hygge have something to do with the Danes happiness? Other Scandinavian countries and cultures (such as Norway and Sweden) have the same concept, just use different words. From all that I’ve read, I’ll try to convey the essence of hygge, since I believe that seeking hyggeligt moments is an important aspect to overall happiness. By becoming more aware of hyggeligt moments in our daily lives, we become more appreciative of what we have, which in turn spreads positivity and (perhaps a bit of an idealistic way of seeing it) this helps just a bit more to make the world a better place.

Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), is a Danish word which doesn’t have a direct translation in English. One way to describe it, might be the warm and tingly feeling that is evoked from complete and utter coziness. It’s one of those feelings that you are very aware of having at that moment—a sense of feeling safe and feeling absolute bliss, when everything seems ‘right’ and your heart is at ease. Hygge may be experienced anywhere at anytime, as long as the elements of comfort align. One way that Wiking describes hygge in the book, is “cocoa by candlelight” and that–I think, is the shortest and sweetest way to try and convey the feeling.

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The Components to Attain Hygge

Quite often hygge is organic and happens to us naturally, without the need for us to search for it. However, depending on many factors (like how busy your lifestyle is), it can be nice to actively try to slow down, relax, and create a hygge moment. Some of these tricks may assist with creating the moment yourself:

  • Light. It seems to be agreed upon by many, that lighting is truly everything when it comes to hygge. Soft lighting can alter an environment instantly. Candles, twinkle lights, fireplaces, diffused lighting are all examples of hygge lighting. Take away any harsh/direct/overhead lighting, and you are on your way to feeling more hygge. Now this is not to say that you cannot feel hygge in a sunlit meadow, or while while sipping a coffee at a side walk cafe at sunset. Candles, fireplaces and dim lighting assist while attaining hygge indoors, instead of harsh artificial lights.
  • Introduce things that make you happy into the moment. Hygge is generally known to come about when you are relaxed, so ideas to help you achieve hygge moments may be playing soothing music, warm beverages, being close to nature (even if indoors or living in a city…Scandinavian culture greatly believes in things that are simple and organic…clean lines, wood furniture, plants, etc), treating yourself/indulging (soaking in a bubble bath, having a glass of wine, taking time to cook a delicious meal for yourself etc).
  • A connectedness with your surrounding environment. Being ‘in the moment’. Whether you’ve just reached the peak of the mountain you’ve been hiking, or you’re cuddled in bed with a loved one on a Sunday morning, take a moment to be aware of your surroundings. While standing on the peak of that mountain, feel the way the breeze sweeps across your face. Listen closely to the silence that surrounds you, but notice the rustling of the leaves beneath your feet and the way a single bird is calling out in the distance. While cuddled in bed, take a moment to listen to the rain that’s pouring outside, and how each droplet sounds as it falls onto your window. Feel the textures of the blankets you’re cocooned in and appreciate how warm and cozy you feel, and how grateful you are that you don’t have to go out into the rain. 
  • Feeling full of love and at peace. I believe that you become very aware when you are having a hyggeligt moment, perhaps heightened senses even–it is not just simply feeling comfortable or content. I notice that these moments lead to becoming appreciative of all aspects of your life–the people you care about, the things you’ve seen and places you’ve been, that have led you to this moment in time. A reflection of life that makes you feel full of love and completely content with where you are.

My Hygge Sanctuaries…

These are just some examples of places and scenarios that create an extremely hyggeligt moment in time for me. I would love to hear about your favorite hygge moments below in the comments section!

I feel hygge while having tea on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, listening to the seagulls as I watch the sunset paint the city gold.

Being led by the hand of The Archer through the honey coloured 18th century stone Georgian city of Bath, I feel an overwhelming and never ending amount of hygge. Amazed to be in a place of so much beauty and history, while feeling lucky to be able to leisurely wander about—definitely one of the top on my list of my perfect hygge sanctuaries.

Late afternoons on the desolate beaches of Malibu with my handsome little prince Dexter. Finding the perfect little hideaway on the coast of the Pacific ocean, bringing along blankets and snacks, and cuddling in the sand until the California sun begins to set…hyggeligt moment (for the both of us!)–check!

The view from the F train, each day that I go into Manhattan. There are few trains that have a view like this, and to see the city rising as you approach the 4th and 9th street station of Brooklyn–it’s pretty incredible. Whether it’s sunset, snowfall, or the middle of the night and the city lights are glistening like stars…no matter–it’s all an incredible sight! This type of hygge comes more in the form of a rush of excitement and gratitude. This particular hygge moment is felt daily, as I remind myself to look out the window when approaching the view.

Now, it’s your turn–I’d love to hear about the places you feel hyggeligt ❤❤❤

Kelebek x

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