“A hygge book again!” I hear you cry. And it is a hygge book, all be it a budget option. Hygge books, tending to be bigger, better paper and full of beautiful pictures, are also more likely to be of a bigger price tag. It’s good to save money now and again and to test out offerings that won’t break the bank.
Noah Nielsen’s book is available on Kindle at 99p or in Paperback for £7.99. It’s even listed as available as an Audible download, which is always fun. I bought the Kindle version, because I didn’t know what the book would be like.
Noah writes on the Amazon page for Hygge,
“Fed up with the hectic pace of modern day living? Well then, curl up with this book, a cosy blanket, some hot chocolate and learn how to embrace the Danish concept of cosy and simple living.
Growing up in Denmark I never knew us Danes were different. Of course being different is not always a bad thing! In my early twenties I moved to New York to study interior design. It was during my time in New York that I realized the importance of hygge. Everyone seemed so busy, so stern looking and so stressed! After spending two long years in New York I decided I had to spread the word about “Hygge” and so I wrote my book “Hygge: A Danish Concept of Simple & Cosy Living.”
Us Danes have been voted the happiest in the world for the past 40 years in numerous studies. In this book I give away the secret to our happiness and explain how you too can embrace the concept of hygge to live a calmer more enjoyable lifestyle.
The great thing about hygge is everyone can embrace the hygge mindset of cosy and simple living.
Hygge will allow you to create closer bonds with your loved ones, enjoy the simple miracles in life which occur each day and enjoy the winter instead of dreading it!”
There are 72 pages in the book, broken down into 8 chapters. These include the Introduction, How to Practise Living a Hygge Lifestyle, Hygge for Wellness and Health and the penultimate chapter,Ten ways to Start Enjoying Hygge Immediately.
I might be wrong, but the feeling I get reading this book is that Noah has had a book on mindfulness either written or stewing in his head for a while. The book takes a very “Hygge is Mindfulness” approach, even down to those ten ways to incorporate Hygge. What would you be expecting? Light candles? Snuggle down in the cold? Eat comfort food? Get out into the bad weather to enjoy yourselves? I know that’s a simplistic list, but that’s effectively what we’re expecting; a list of physical and emotional ways to ‘hygge’, to enjoy small pleasures, to live with contentment as an achievable goal rather than beyond us.
Noah’s list is kicked off with the advice to “Engage your senses.” the point of which activity is “never look at the act of eating or drinking the same way again.” I won’t be able to, I’ll be too busy reading his instructions to ” Take a bite of your food or a sip of your drink. Chew slowly, savouring the flavours, juices, sweet or salty taste. move the food around in your mouth. What does it taste like on the tip of your tongue? In the middle? At the back? If you took a sip of your drink, move it around your mouth before swallowing or hold it on your tongue for a second. What subtle notes can you taste? What does the texture feel like? How does chewing change the flavour? Take another bite. Repeat the process.” (italics are mine)
I’ve reached a goodly age by now; I’ve read most self help books of one topic or another and I very much recognise this activity as one that I’ve done for mindfulness. His other 10 choices to boost hygge include Inhale deeply, Eye Candy (as in look at an object deeply), Experience Tranquil Waters, Clean Up, Give Something away, Do Something Nice for Someone else,Cherish Your Time…. at that point I really gave up and flicked through the rest of his list. I do Cherish my Time and I appreciate being allowed to make up my own mind about a book. Whatever Hygge; A Danish Concept of Cosy and Simple Living set out to be, it ended up as a guide to mindful living, not a discourse on hygge.
Hygge is such an individualised concept anyway, relying as it does on who your secure circle is and where you feel most comfortable. For a single man out and about in New York it may well be that the bedsit tea sipped mindfully is hygge. For the mother of three in Liverpool, getting the tea through the lips warm is sometimes a miracle. That’s why lists of things that are ‘hygge’ always have a critic; there is always someone for whom cashmere is a no-no or to whom the idea of drinking anything warm is an anathema. Go back, get the manifesto out. In terms of distilling Hygge into as universal a list as possible, I think The Weiking does it best:
I can’t recommend Hygge as a hyggelig read, but it was a reasonable read and, for 99p, I didn’t begrudge the money which, had I bought the real book, I might have done. If you really see hygge as pure mindfulness, then the book will appeal. I can’t see it as that, not straight mindfulness, and definitely not any form that stresses “Take steps to turn your home into a tranquil, solitary escape, where you can ease your mind, de-stress, relax, take life a moment at a time and savour all the tiny things and the all too fleeting moments in life” Excuse me? Solitary? That’s not hygge. That’s mindfulness. Hygge needs to be flexible enough to let me be with family, friends, colleagues, the pub quiz team. Setting an intention? Developing a practice? They’re mindfulness terms.
I could see that someone who already has a mindfulness practice or is in a position to hygge in solitude might appreciate the advice given (“If you’re a visual or tactile person there isn’t a problem in having certain items that help you practice hygge…. remember hygge is about practising a simple, more conscientious lifestyle ” Right, because Hygge is all about that zen quality, not that the zen quality can come from hygge; that being aware of everything you have will make you aware of what you need vs what you want) but I think Noah needs to be honest with himself; he has written a good book on mindfulness and minimalism, but it’s not universal hygge. I couldn’t give this to my cousin with a family and say, “This will help you to hygge.” I’d do better to get her a basket of food and a DVD and invite her over to hygge at mine. Or to point her towards the very hyggelig Instagram accounts and Facebook pages around, and say to her to link up, talk it through, list the ways and find out that you hygge already, you just need to be aware of it.
There we go. A (negative) hygge book review. For 99p you won’t feel robbed… but you won’t feel satisfied, either. The hygge equivalent of a KFC snackbox. Now there’s a simile I won’t be putting on Amazon.
As usual, if you like this, please share, and if you don’t like it, let me know. I won’t mind. If you want to link with me, then find and follow me; at How to Hygge the British Way on Facebook, as @AngelKneale on Twitter and as British Hygge Jem on Instagram.
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