Another non-hygge hygge book this week. This time, the links between the book and hygge are easier to spot.
Back in the late 1990s, Sarah Ban Breathnach made it big… and I mean REALLY big… when Oprah declared her book one of the best things she’s ever read, and a constant companion. Oprah has passions, and the world follows them. We really need her to announce to the world that hygge is the best thing ever invented and that The Hygge Nook on Facebook is The Most Positive Place to be, and we’ll be well away. In fact, I should check if Meik Wiking has sent her a copy of his book in case….
But back to my review… in 1998 I was a new mother and struggling with that sense of identity. Was I a person or a 24 hr milk machine? Well, at the time I was a milk machine, but I knew I had to keep myself human. On a trip to The Trafford Centre (Cathedral of Shopping, in Manchester) I saw this big, hefty cream patterned book and flicked through it.
It was a set of 366 meditations, and by that I mean short essays on various topics, rather than guided breathing & thinking exercises. The few I looked at were okay, and the book was a very reasonable price, so I brought it home.
I read it almost all the way through for the next few days. I stopped before December. I had loved every single one. I loved the whole concept of Simple Abundance, an idea borne out of Sarah’s lack of funds and identity as a wife and mother.
She set out to establish practices that would make her more authentic; to learn to recognise what she needed, what she loved, what she hated and not to go with the flow just because. Her six guiding principles were gratitude,simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy. Very hygge.
“Usually, when the distractions of daily life deplete our energy, the first thing we eliminate is the thing we eliminate is the thing we need the most: quiet, reflective time. Time to dream, time to contemplate what’s working and what’s not, so that we can make changes for the better. (January 17)”
― Sarah Ban Breathnach,
And she used creative mixed media to discover what she needed. She used time alone with a cup of tea to explore her wants and desires. She used quotations to inspire her, and sought out reassurance that she didn’t have to be anything other than who she was. And it was good.
The book is still an excellent read. With the exception of some mention of ruffles, I don’t think it’s dated badly. Her thoughts still speak to many women especially today, and we are all still seeking authenticity. Isn’t that part of hygge? That we are authentic enough to know that the gin tasting next week speaks to us of hygge, while the beer festival the week after would be hell. Or that we need to buy a small flower for our table, because we haven’t been able to get out into the outdoor world.
I still recommend the book to friends who need to find a break in life. When they’re frazzled, or busy or in need of a friend to tell them to relax and not to worry, then Simple Abundance is my go to text.
And I am recommending it as a hygge read, because it is such a source of peace and help. Hygge is at least in part about recognising our own preferences and building time and space for them into the life we lead. It’s about honouring our family and friends as a source of joy, and it’s about recognising the power that small things have to make even the worst day bad. Simple Abundance the Book helps us to do that.
“Learning to live in the present moment is part of the path of joy.”
― Sarah Ban Breathnach
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