The pages in Simple Abundance that I turn to most aren’t actually any of the daily entries. I read them, and love them, but very often I turn to the pages at the back of the month and read what Sarah Ban Breathnach calls her Joyful Simplicities. They’re simple, small joyful actions that just lift our hearts and give us a moment of pause in life.
I know they have inspired many women (and men) through the years to find their own list of private joys. One of my early blog mentors, Alison May, captured hers as Puttery Treats on her earlier Brocante Home blog (now, sadly, unavailable to all except subscribers), while The Simple Things Magazine in the UK captures their little pleasures as could do lists, which they used to arrange in monthly lists but now collect around their theme word of the month.
Whatever you call it, we could all do with a list of little treats or pleasures that are guaranteed smile raisers in the maelstrom that is life. For years I have had a Hygge List in my planner, seasonally arranged so that I can always find a little inspiration for winter hygge, be it a hot chocolate with squirty cream and chocolate flake dusting or a walk along the river when the wind is whipping up the waves. Some of them are solo pleasures, others best done in company, but whichever, they are the small pleasures of life that add a layer of pleasure even on the darkest day. We’re due a heavy fall of rain today, so getting home tonight and settling down with a small treat would be the absolute height of joyful simplicity.
What’s that, you say? What are the Joyful Simplicities I’m enjoying this season? Here’s my list for January and February: which ones do you do already? Which simplicities do you find irresistible?
- A pot of blue hyacinths, just supermarket bought or planted last November like a proper organised homemaker, on the table and watered regularly.
- A new coffee or tea. At this time of year, I like spicy tea, so chai is always my favourite but I’m loving Dreamy Beans Orange Mocha coffee. It smells like Terry’s Chocolate Orange in coffee form. I’m also even more delighted to have won their new year’s Instagram competition! One pouch of coffee per month for a year! We’ve been drinking their coffee every weekend for years, and they have a lot of great flavours, so do pop over and have a look at the Dreamy Beans website.
- Morning coffee by candlelight. It’s just so relaxing, and gives a simple action an extra boost, especially when the weather outside is frightful. It works for the Danes, so why not in grey, dismal Britain?
- Candles any time, just because. The Danes are the greatest users of candles in the world, simply because the flickering flames are such a visible symbol of hope whatever time of year it is. And a woman of a certain age by candlelight is always protected from the ravages of time when she sits in candle light, not incandescent light.
- A new book. This weekend it will be Happy Inside by Michelle Ogundehin. I got it over Christmas, and I haven’t had chance to read it yet. The relationship between home and happiness is important for all of us. I have known the best bloggers fall apart when their homes got messy, or their homes got messy when their spirits fell apart. It’s natural: it’s why setting yourself up as the Absolute Bomb on anything is a mistake: we all learn from each other, and nobody is the Chief Hygge Meister, Top Homemaker or Lead Diva ever.
- Listening to new music. I’m addicted currently to The Dead South, having been introduced to them by my son. Their song, In Hell I’ll be In Good Company is a guaranteed whistle along and it is impossible to cry while whistling.
- Baking cheese and bacon bread. I love making this although, sadly, I’m on a carb free diet at the moment (yes, I know, how crazy?) so I’m living on the smell rather than the taste. This recipe, from The Spruce Eats, is gorgeous and has worked every weekend so far. It doesn’t last in my house, though, so be warned it is addictive!
- Doing nothing. Take the time just to watch the garden, if it’s daylight, or the moon if it’s not. Feeding the birds comes in useful here. A good feeder placed where you can see it from your chair or desk and loaded with fat balls, seeds and peanuts can provide hours of pleasure.
- Walking outside. When I’m stressed I head to the woods (with good boots on) or simply a walk around the block. Getting out makes such a difference, boosting my mood when low and reminding me of the many pleasures of nature when I’m happy.
- Spotting the signs of spring. I don’t believe we label our seasons quite right: December, January and February are called Winter when, really, I think we should call February the first month of Spring. When the snowdrops bloom and the blossom buds appear, the days are long enough to feel like we can do something after work, except crawl into the house and hunker down, and the whole world yawns after a winter break. And we know this mad flirtation with youth and energy will last right through to the heat that, so often now in the UK, arrives in May.
- Watching black and white movies, new and familiar. There is something so comfortingly nostalgic about a decent Saturday Matinee. Grab your popcorn, make that massive mug of tea and settle down to an afternoon of Gumption. Bette Davis back catalogue looks good for a start and then perhaps Kathryn Hepburn. Women who were women, strong, decisive, and ever so authentic without losing sight of their purpose. Nobody dared put Bette in a corner, whether there was a man there or not.
I’m sure this list isn’t exhaustive by any means. I may even add to it as the winter slides slowly into spring. What joyful, puttery, could do simplicities are you looking forward to? What hygge moments are you hopeful to create?
Today’s header photo is by Annie Spratt on Unsplash. I chose it because it was a combination of present pleasures (the coffee) with nostalgia (the photographs). Nostalgia is a powerful force in hygge, because often we find a deep moment of hygge with friends or family when we’re feeling most nostalgic.
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How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.