Miriam Bouteba hit a raw nerve last week when she said in Timeout London that “Hygge is a waste of London.” I have never seen anyone so perfectly trounced on Twitter, laughed at and basically told that she wasn’t living right if she couldn’t find anything to hygge about in her life.
I’m calling bullshit on that: the word does have an exact English translation, and that is ‘boring’. (Miriam Bouteba)
I don’t see Miriam’s problem; does she never have five quiet minutes? Does she never just go and curl up in her poky little flat and have a cup of tea? Is she really telling me that she is a 24/7 party person?
But hygge doesn’t really work quite as well in a city of poky flatshares – many without living rooms, never mind fireplaces – where there’s a strong chance that your bedroom was once a cupboard. (Miriam Bouteba)
I’m fortunate that the closest I ever came to a poky flat was at university, with shared bathroom and kitchen hell as well. It didn’t matter; for the time I was there, it was still home. I made it my home, picture, throws, lights and all. Does Miriam never think that the flat, temporary though it might be, is still her home even if just for the month/year/decade? To think otherwise is to live in a state of homeless limbo, never letting the flat mean anything to you, never making it a home. And in hygge, as in many other parts of life, attitude is 9/10ths of success.
Nothing spectacular ever happened to someone when they were feeling cosy. (Miriam Bouteba)
Now, I can agree with Miriam here; the most spectacular things happen outside of cosy. Bilbo and Frodo Baggins can both tell you that…. but after the spectacle, after the wars, after the endless days of money making in the city…. there must be a pause, and a cessation of striving and that time then…. well, that’s when the hygge happens. If we let it.
Hygge isn’t meant to be a permanent state of being. Meik Wiking tells us that in his Little Book of Hygge, Charlotte Abrahams says that Danish people try to schedule 2 or 3 hyggelig things a week in her Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures. Bronte Aurell puts it well in her answer to Miriam Bouteba’s article; Hygge is part of London;
Hygge is that feeling you have when you forget about time for a bit. You relax your shoulders, forget about tomorrow’s deadline and take a bit of time to live in the moment with whoever you are with. Sometimes there’s food. Sometimes the telly is on. Quite often there’s wine. Sometimes candles, sometimes not. It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, whether you’re at home or out and about. hygge is not about jumpers and mock-Viking socks. It doesn’t care where you live or what your house looks like. You don’t even need to spend any money. Your hygge is your own. Some of the most hyggelige times I’ve ever had in my entire life have been in a tent in a field, in the rain sharing a bag of crisps with people I love. (Bronte Aurell)
Note the deadline for tomorrow; it’s not escaping from all ills, it’s taking a breather. If you can’t switch off for five minutes, or longer, to drink your coffee and laugh with friends, then you are in danger of burn out. I’m a hygge lover; seriously, I read the books, administrate the Facebook groups, buy the boxes just because they say Hygge on them… even I need to do my straight work, the typing, the posting, the filing. Not to mention the cooking the cleaning the washing….
I’m not a 24/7 hygge party person. I’m not a 24/7 anything person. Life isn’t all ups or downs, not all excitement or all boredom. It’s about balance. The work-life balance that Denmark is so famous for, a chance to work hard when you’re at work and play hard when you’re at play and in the middle to hygge. And if you can’t find time and make time for that, then you need to look at your life. Go find the balance. I’ll be here ready to hygger when you are.
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If you love to hygge and want a place on the net, then try The Hygge Nook on Facebook. It’s a group dedicated to recognising and recording the hyggely moments of life.
If you want to connect more with me (thank you x) then find me on How to Hygge the British Way on Facebook, as @AngelKneale on Twitter and as British Hygge Jem on Instagram. I’m happyto make new friends to add to the oldies but goodies I have already!