Hygge is such a simple concept, yet I think sometimes we humans really don’t like simple. We have to complicate a thing, tie it up with something else or make it a multi-sensory, multi-layered essential experience, instead of just appreciating the smallest of facts.
Hygge just is, it’s not fancy or complicated or posh. It’s not about having a perfect life or house or day. It’s about appreciating what we do have, using it well and sharing with others. It’s about cultivating the ability to enjoy the smallest of things in every day life. It’s about appreciating the friends and family we have, enjoying the breaks in a busy life and making sure we let ourselves enjoy nothing every bit as much as other people enjoy striving and achieving.
It can’t be bought, can’t be created and can’t be picked up in a fancy store. It’s the most basic thing possible. It just is.
That said, you can create situations and ways of living that are probably going to enhance your hygge. You can set up a home and a way of living that has space and opportunity to hygge, and you can curate your life so that the people, places and activities that you are surrounded by are those that usually help you to hygge.
And, of course, hygge is a very seasonal experience. The things that you do to hygge in summer can be very different from the ones you enjoy in spring or autumn. Christmas hygge? That’s my favourite season, and full of hyggely moments. But part of hygge is learning to appreciate life as it is now, today, this moment. It’s about remembering past seasons when the sun shone just so, or the wind blew the leaves, and anticipating many more seasons to come, of course, life is cyclical and we never get off the circle of Life until the very end. Ultimately though we only have one time that is available to us to hygge, and that is now. Don’t put off hygge until tomorrow: tomorrow never comes. Don’t be always yearning for the hygge of yesterday: that has passed and may never come again since both time and people are in a constant state of change. Now: embrace now, and live well now and hygge now. That’s the only definite thing we have.
And after that deep thinking session, how about ways to stop now and hygge now? Autumn Hygge of the best sort: good for groups or alone. This isn’t a must-do list, or even a could-do list. It’s just a list. If the opportunity arises, do them. If it never comes this year, store them in your memory and they will rise to the top when the moment is right. Oh… and enjoy.
Hyggely Ways to Enjoy Autumn
- Rake the leaves into one big pile. Put the rake safely to one side, then jump into, on top of or through the leaves. Rake them back up again and put in decomposable hessian sacks to leave in a pile at the bottom of the garden ready to use as compost next year.
- Take five minutes a day to enjoy the sun where ever you are. Take your mug of tea or lunchtime sandwich and find a small space to sit and let the sun smile on you. Take a friend and enjoy a short break together.
- Have an outdoor picnic in the park. Take flasks of soup, or heat up hotdog sausages and keep warm in an insulated container. Go with close friends, or take a group of children. And laugh while you do: it might be freezing, or damp from a sudden shower, but it is something to remember in years to come, and sometimes the real hygge of a thing is felt best in retrospect.
- Nature! Just get out there. Stroll, not scroll a weekend afternoon away with a friend and their dog, if you can, or stroll alone and enjoy the colours of the countryside. If you can do the same walk again in a couple of weeks time, you can really see the changes in the trees at this time of year.
- Snuggle down when it gets dark: light a candle (or three), grab a drink and a bite to eat and just enjoy the feeling of being safe and sound inside. Works best on a dark and dreary night when the rain is falling or wind is likely.
- Hygge the home: find your hyggekrog, or hygge nook, and make it cosy. Collect blankets or throws, a pair of fluffy socks, a rice heat pad or anything else that makes you cosy. Have enough for family or friends, and hunker down for the evening.
- Make something autumnal. Anything made with apples is good, pies or cakes or cookies. I love apple pies, and bake so rarely that spending an afternoon in the kitchen with apple and cinnamon is a treat. Of course, the other big treat is eating the pie afterwards. Make two, and you can take one to a friend or neighbour and spread the joy!
- Decorate for autumn. Collect colourful leaves or the fruits of autumn (acorns, conkers, a sprig of berries) as you walk and bring them back for the mantelpiece or coffee table. Make a doorwreath from twisted twigs and foraged/fake leaves. I bought my door wreath over 4 years ago, and putting it out on 1st September is one of my favourite autumny things to do.
- Hold an End of Harvest Supper just before Halloween. Samhain, the traditional Celtic festival, is held when it is precisely because it’s the end of all the harvests: field, fruit and flesh. Share a simple stew or soup supper with homemade bread and pumpkin pie to follow with a small group, before enjoying a weepie like Nights In Rodanthe or another fall movie.
- Celebrate your Fall festival of choice! I have several friends who love Halloween (Clarice and Amy, I’m looking at you!) and will celebrate it madly all October long, but I also have Christian friends who feel they cannot celebrate because of the ancient Pagan connection. My church friends celebrate All Saints instead, with superheroes, saints stories and other positive, light-filled activities. Me, I have become more balanced as time goes by. We need both the dark and the light in life, and marking a day like Halloween as a time to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us, and following it with a day to remember the light makers who keep us happy now seems a good compromise. If you’re not happy with any of the festivals on offer, create your own.
Small actions, fully appreciated, are what hygge lives in. Need more inspiration? I created this infographic a couple of years ago: read, consider, and adopt what suits.
Today’s header is a photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash. I chose it for the colours: how many different shades do leaves come in? And how beautiful are they? I have found my clothes over the past few years sliding more towards the autumn end of the spectrum than any other season. Gold, ochre, orange and every shade of brown possible. Truly, I am loving the autumn of my life.
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. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
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. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. 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:
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. August is like a pause before real life begins again in September, so it’s a second chance to set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things 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.
On the principle that it’s never too early to start thinking ahead, really, and that Christmas is always on us before we know, how about Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas? Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
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.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.