It’s here again, that time of year when savvy shopkeepers up the sales factor and people start labelling items with tags to increase their saleability. Random objects get labelled on Amazon as ‘Great Christmas Gift’ or ‘Perfect for Winter’. In the last few years, items have been labelled as ‘Ideal for Hygge’.
If anybody ever tells you that you should get X, Y or Z because it is hyggely, then please do give them a funny look and say, in a very stern voice “Objects aren’t hygge, people are.”
Hygge doesn’t come from owning the right stuff, from having a house that is interior designed to perfection or from being able to wear cashmere socks with shorts and still look like a supermodel rather than a bag of spuds stored badly. It never has, according to the Danes who should know, and it never will as long as we are using hygge as a word to mean pleasure in the small things, comfort of the soul or a feeling of security and happiness provided as much by the company we are with as by the place we are in.
It’s quite possible to find hygge everywhere in life without spending a penny. By looking afresh at things around the house, cleaning and clearing to give you room to breathe, pulling an old and well-loved cover off the bed and using it to snuggle in downstairs. By having friends over for a coffee made with instant powder, or a pot of tea. By making a small cake, or a plate of biscuits and sharing them with a friend whose sense of humour matches yours.
By walking in the local streets and finding the beauty that is there, rather than always searching out the idyllic countryside of the next county. It is amazing what little architectural or natural treasures are in your own backyard, if you take time to see them.
By taking time to stop at work and sip rather than gulp your drink. Even better if you can persuade a friend to sip with you. Breaks are a workers’ right, make sure you take them for your own mental health. By encouraging the people around you to talk about their small pleasures, their families, pets or interests that make them happy.
By doing good for other people, helping that little old lady cross the road, holding the lift door open for the man running late, lifting the buggy up the steps with the harassed mother. By putting the change from your chocolate bar into the charity tin, by buying the Big Issue from the guy who always stands outside the supermarket with a chat as well as a smile.
By smiling at those we meet, as we walk along, and stopping to greet old friends with a hug. By seeing things on TV that remind us of them (Old Top of The Pops and that hair style your friend worked so hard to keep perfect) and dropping them a message on Facebook. By making space in our social life for a meal with family and friends.
Hygge is not an extra expense in an already overcrowded life. It’s a break from all that. I’m not saying you will never buy anything to improve your life and create an environment that encourages hygge, just that that will happen organically, because you see a need, and it will happen with thought and consideration, most probably with an eye to quality rather than quantity because you know now that you are the keeper of your own happiness. Too much stuff isn’t hygge, because too much stuff doesn’t let you be happy. Be sensible, be thoughtful, and be authentic.
If you’d like to read about the small things that have helped me to be happier, my new book is available from Amazon. Happier is all about how to use the small details in life to make you happier. You can get it at Amazon. I also think the principles of enjoying life and savouring the small details are an important part of hygge and that runs through my first few books as well. You can find details about all my books, and how to connect with me on social media on the Start Here page of my blog.
You can also subscribe to a new monthly newsletter, Cosy Happy Hygge. It is a cosy letter full of things to create happiness that arrives in your inbox early each month. The next edition is due out this week, and full details are on this blogpost: Cosy Happy Hygge. You can also subscribe quite simply by clicking this link and filling in the large orange form that it leads to!
Neither Cosy Happy Hygge nor my blog, How to Hygge the British Way, are monetised. That means no adverts, no PR content and no product pushing just because I’ve been asked to. I have taken the decision that I want to remain neutral and not to promote things ‘just because’. I will only ever review items that I have bought myself, or that I have accepted because I think they will help to promote hygge in a busy life.
To do this, I need support. Even just the price of half a cup of coffee adds up to a book over time, and it means I can stay independent. Would you help? Please consider clicking through to paypal.me/HyggeJem and just leaving even a small amount. I’d be very grateful.