There’s a reason Denmark is considered one of the happiest places on earth. From raising children in bliss to creating low-stress lives, the Danish pursuit of happiness - known as ‘Hygge’ - is a combination of behavioral choices, cognitive modification, environmental adaptation and philosophy.
Pronounced “hue-geh”, with the first “h” stressed, the Danish word doesn’t have an exact English translation. “Wellbeing” and “coziness” come close but, in The Book Of Hygge, author Louisa Thomsen Brits defines it as “a feeling of belonging and warmth; a moment of comfort and contentment”.
By embracing the concept of Hygge, the Danes are better able to modify their behavior to achieve a work-life balance and invest in self-care. They do this not by pretending that everything is perfect, but rather by proactively achieving a cognitive balance. This is why those who practice Hygge learn how to experience more pleasure in life and achieve a greater sense of happiness.
The Mindfulness Factor
Mindfulness is one of the primary paths to happiness — which is why being truly present in the moment is the key to embracing Hygge. By being grounded in attention to the present moment, we can teach ourselves to be less affected by painful emotions. We can also learn how to better respond to experiences, and use each one as a teaching moment.
By engaging in sensory experience more fully, Hygge can help you identify pleasures where you normally wouldn’t realize there were any. For example, through mindful eating, drinking and other sensory experience than hone in on your sense of sight, taste, sound, touch and smell.
Hygge encourages us to interact positively with one another, as well as our pets and the nature that surrounds us. It also reminds us of what used to make us happy and things that once gave us pleasure. For example, running around barefoot on the grass as a child.
There are three main principles of Hygge. They are: finding pleasure in your daily life, being more present and mindful of the moment, and participating in more activities while being more engaged.
Using your five senses with mindfulness as your intention is the key to living the Hygge life.
There are no quick or temporary fixes when it comes to adopting Hygge. Instead, it requires that you aim to find the balance in your life by increasing self-care and paying more attention to your wellbeing.
Here are some of how to bring the Hygge lifestyle into your life:
Let it Burn
The Hygge environment is full of ‘hot spots’ of coziness. The weather in Denmark is what makes snuggling up to an indoor fire super cozy. However, even if you live in a place with a warm climate, an outdoor fire can still make for a great place to have a good conversation. Candles are also a great way to emulate the Danes because of the way they evoke warmth and comfort.
Hygge is all about sensory pleasure – especially when it comes to eating. Cakes, Danish pastries, hearty soups and hot desserts are at the heart of the hygge philosophy, along with coffee, cocoa, hot chocolate and mulled wines. If you’re watching your diet, then use your sense of smell to take in the aromas of delicious foods or freshly brewed coffee.
The whole point of Hygge is sharing time and affection with your friends or loved ones, so make sure the group is large enough to be interesting but small enough to remain intimate. All electronics should be banned, and if you have background music at all, keep it soft and soothing.
Stick to a Schedule
While Hygge welcomes spontaneity, commitment is at the root of keeping you grounded. Boundaries are essential as is routine. At the end of your workday, strive to cut off all communication from the office completely. Also, put a cap on the time you spend on social media. Don’t pollute your sleep area with electronics, either. By adopting a Hygge lifestyle, rather learn to relax with your loved ones, and focus on taking care of yourself each day – morning and night. When in doubt, simply submerge yourself in a warm bath.
Learn to Meditate
Becoming more mindful is at the heart of Hygge. Mediation is a sure-fire way to ground yourself in the present and hone in on your senses. It can also help with positive stress management which, in turn, allows you to nurture your mental health. In fact, mediation has been proven to change the neurochemical reactions in our brain which further reinforces the Hygge notion of making real changes to our perception and behavior in a holistic, meaningful way.
To find out how to become more mindful so you can adopt the Hygge practice of happiness, visit www.hydrean.com.