How would you describe being in front of a fireplace on a cold, winter night with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, a soft blanket wrapped around you, your favourite person cuddled up next to you and a purring cat on your lap?
If you were feeling anxious with your mind elsewhere, you may be missing out on the beauty of this moment entirely. If you were present enough to enjoy it, the words you’d use would probably be ‘blissful’, ‘happy’ or even ‘heavenly’.
If you were in Denmark, the word you’d likely be using is hygge, or ‘hue-guh’ as a true blue Dane would say it.
Get hygge with it
There isn’t an English word to describe hygge, but if you were to explain this uniquely Danish concept in English, it would basically be this: It’s a way of life that creates feelings of cozy contentment and well-being.
So what does it actually mean to live a hygge life?
Well for starters, it’s not about spending a lot of money on things. It’s about taking joy in the simplest things in life, which means that even those of us on a limited budget can do it.
British journalist and author of The Year Of Living Danishly, Helen Russell calls it “taking pleasure in the presence of gentle, soothing things”, while the Oxford Living Dictionaries describes it as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”
Needless to say, we’re sold, and it’s not hard to see why this way of living has taken off like a rocket in many parts of the world over the last couple of years — it’s such a simple way to transform every little thing you do in a day into a beautiful, calming ritual, what’s not to love?
And given how challenging living in the modern world is, what with chronic stress and technology addiction taking over our lives, as well as new diseases spreading at what feels like the speed of light, it’s more difficult than ever to slow down and present in any moment, let alone take joy from it.
But just like developing a new habit, embracing a new mindset takes plenty of practice. If the thought of adding more ‘cozy contentment’ into your life excites you, we’ve put together a list of simple things you can start doing now to get hygge with it.
Hygge tip #1: Stop thinking about what’s coming next.
The key to getting hygge right isn’t about the outcome of doing something, such as finishing a book, serving a new dish you cooked to “oohs” and “aahs”, or feeling chuffed about completing your latest IKEA hacking project.
It’s about taking joy in the actual ‘doing’.
Your first step to creating hygge in your life? Pick one simple thing you’re going to do next (say making a cup of tea), mentally prepare to immerse yourself into the process of doing it, and then focus your attention on how it makes you feel.
The more feelings of well-being and coziness it brings you, the better.
Hygge tip #2: Stay in bed a little longer.
You know that feeling of slow, sleepy and cozy warmth that you get when you open your eyes in the morning? If you’re used to jumping out of bed in a rush, the answer is probably “no”.
This is all the more reason to start enjoying the feelings of stillness, warmth and coziness that you get from being enveloped in the softness and comfort of your bed.
Hygge tip #3: Put on your hyggebukser.
You know the loose, baggy and un-fashionable pants you can’t wait to put on after a long day out but would never be caught dead wearing in public?
Yup, those pants, and we know you have them (who doesn’t?).
The Danish happily call them hyggebukser, and will gladly pair them with the softest (but mismatched) socks and sweater for a complete home hygge look that pleases no one but themselves.
Hygge tip #4: Cook a therapeutic meal.
As far as the Danes are concerned, cooking is so much more than just putting food on the table — it’s also the therapeutic feel of kneading dough, the focus that making a delicate sauce calls for, and the comforting scent of cookies baking in the oven.
For them, the whole point of cooking is to get lost in the joy of creating dishes that comfort their senses and nourish their soul, and then savouring them mindfully.
Hygge tip #5: Get hygge with your home decor.
Hygge is all about creating a home where you feel safe, cozy and relaxed.
This means sticking to a colour palette that soothes you, adding touches of cozy (think fluffy pillows, soft rugs and blankets), and lighting that adds warmth to your space.
This calls for plenty of soft lighting in the form of candles, fairy lights and possibly even a fireplace to make your evenings as hygge as possible with minimal effort.
Hygge tip #6: Rethink your approach to cleaning.
Some of us love cleaning, many of us don’t.
But approaching it from a hygge perspective can turn a potentially tedious chore into one that’s calming, fun and rewarding.
Think: Turning cleaning into a game the whole family can join in on, having a glass of wine as you go about cleaning, using this time as an opportunity to catch up on your favourite podcasts or audio books, and one of the best hygge feelings of all, the joy of being in a sparkling-clean home that looks and smells amazing.
Hygge tip #7: Invite mother nature into your home.
Spending as much as time as you can outdoors is an amazing way to bring more hygge into your life, but what if you can’t get outside?
Then you bring the outdoors into your home!
Your best bets are easy-to-grow, easy-to-keep-alive options like the fiddle leaf fig, string of pearls, sweetheart plant, begonia, bird of paradise and anthurium.
Got a nicely-lit spot in your kitchen for some greens? Try setting up a mini herb garden that you can harvest amazing flavours and hygge from whenever you want.
Hygge tip #8: Have meaningful conversations.
While doing hygge things by yourself is amazing, all those warm, cozy vibes will feel even better when you’re sharing it with close family and friends.
This could mean ditching your smartphone for undivided attention, deep conversations and connecting, ideally over a heart, home-cooked meal, a bottle of wine or even a hot pot of tea at the fireplace
Hygge tip #9: Lose yourself in something you love.
If bingeing on your favourite TV series on Netflix or spending hours painting is your idea of happiness, make time for it and turn it into a sacred ritual that you can look forward to regularly.
Creating more hygge in your day isn’t about the big things — the big celebrations, the big trips, new beginnings — it’s also about making the mundaneness of everyday life a source of joy, inspiration or even magic.
Hygge tip #10: Embrace simplicity.
Getting caught up in the excesses, stresses and constant rush of everyday life is a sure-fire way to misery and burn-out.
Hygge, on the other hand, is all about returning to the simple pleasures in life, which could make the act of trimming away all the excesses in your life every single day your ultimate hygge move.
Want some decorating tips for designing the home of your dreams? Get a copy of our FREE Timeless Living: How to Design a Classy IKEA-inspired Home e-book: