The subtitle for The Cosy Life by Pia Edberg is “Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge”. Pia was born in Denmark to a Danish father and a Phillippino mother, and spent her first 5 years there before moving to British Columbia in Canada. She’s an author and artist, and illustrated the Cosy Life herself.
I bought my copy of The Cosy Life in May 2016. I’d read (and must review here) Helen Russell’s The Year of Living Danishly and was searching for more information on the concept of hygge. As a first introduction to the idea, The Cosy Life was a good one to choose.
There’s a stressing throughout of the act of hygge as self care, a way to comfort and create well-being. The first quote of the book is a definition that describes Hygge as:-
“The art of creating warmth, comfort, and well-being through connection, treasuring the moment, and surrounding yourself with things you love”
The book is split into four parts; What is Hygge?, Hygge Foundations, The Hygge Lifestyle and Hygge and Well-being. The book is short, but not empty. Rather Pia has summed up what she wants to say without needing the extra padding of recipes, too many photographs or vast empty pages with rivulets of text meandering across. It’s a practical read.
And practical advice is important in the book. In the chapter on Hygge Foundations, Pia asks us to look at our lives, to think through what hygge is to us. The Hygge Lifestyle takes us through the house and our whole lifestyle to see how we can add a hygge burst to every aspect. In the section on work, Pia says, “A hyggeligt company values friendliness, trust and teamwork,” and gives advice on how to make the physical office more hyggeligt as well.
Pia says at the start that part of her hygge house rests on a minimalist lifestyle, and Pia shows ways to achieve that, and why it’s such a good idea mentally and physically, in the final section on Hygge and Well-Being. Life isn’t a competition and the one with the most toys at the end doesn’t win. Instead Pia emphasises the joy in small things.
“The joy in the simple things, such as making a home-cooked meal, cleaning the house, planting our own herbs, or inviting someone over for tea has been removed because we perceive them as difficult and time-consuming. We need to pause once in a while, embrace the calm, and find joy in the small details, even in the tasks that seem so mundane.”
The joy in the small details is part of hygge to me; being happy with my family enjoying an ice cream on the seafront at Criccieth, or sharing sweets as we wait in line make my heart glow. They are moments that cost nothing, and yet give so much pleasure. And (it pains me to admit it) there is much pleasure in housework if done as a gift to yourself and not an obligation.
I have no problem in recommending The Cosy Life as a good hygge read. There is just enough theory here combined with a hefty dose of practical. I especially love the Endless Hygge Possibilities List, with choices large and small that bring hygge into your life. Pia emphasises,”Hyggeligt activities are simple, old-fashioned, and about bringing joy to everyday routines. If we manage to enjoy all the little things, we will be able to look back and realise that they were also the big things.”
And as if that wasn’t enough, Pia includes a 30 days of hygge challenge; it includes a small hygge activity to do every day such as ‘take a hot bath’, ‘watch the sunrise’ and ‘do something you loved as a child’. I really want to make a calendar of these and follow them… possibly in January when the festivals have passed and I need more hygge to make it through the winter. I might have a word with The Hygge Nook and propose it as a January Challenge.
And that brings me to the social part. If you’re on Facebook and you love hygge, then join The Hygge Nook. It’s a closed group of hygge friends. We managed to leave politics out of our lives completely during the election in America, and we’re a supportive bunch of people. We say no to nobody.