May 31, 2023


Creative living

Remember Hygge?

3 min read

Remember hygge? The Danish way of life that trended on American design sites a few years back? Over the course of a few months, hundreds of articles were shared about how non-Danes could achieve a more hygge way of life by adding simple pleasures. Considering Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world, people feverishly lapped up tips on how bringing more candles and knitted blankets into the home can spark joy. Hygge, like all things in vogue, came and went. But in Denmark, hygge is far from a trend, it’s a way of life. During the long, dark winters when Danes retreat inside their homes, hygge is what brings them a great sense of comfort and joy. As we huddle inside our abodes during lockdown or shelter in place, seeking out simple hyggelig comforts is more relevant than ever.

The hygge approach to life begins in the home, which is convenient considering most of us are hunkering down. “The Danes are obsessed with interior design, as our home is the hygge headquarters. It’s central to social life in Denmark,” says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute and author of The Little Book of Hygge. There is no spreadsheet on how to make your home more hyggelig, but Weik suggests you begin with the addition of candles, warming lighting, books, and blankets. In Charlotte Abrahams’s book Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures she points out comforting accessories to add into the home. “Focus on natural materials with plenty of texture to add visual warmth,” she writes. Her ideas include covering a wall with family photographs, surrounding yourself with quality handmade objects like tableware, and filling rows of glass storage jars with pasta, pulses, and flour to encourage nourishing home cooking.

But hygge isn’t just about how things look, it’s also about how things feel—the sun on your face on a warm day, a hug (which, yes, can be challenging right now), savoring a cookie, or putting on a comfortable sweater when it’s cold outside. “Let your fingers run across a wooden table or a warm ceramic cup. It’s a distinctly different feeling from being in contact with something made from steel, glass, or plastic,” says Wiking. When hygge became a trend around the world, people stocked up on knitted socks and chunky sweaters. They factored time into their day to “be hyggelig,” but, like mindfulness, hygge is a constant state of being. “Hygge is something I practice every day. I try to build a little pleasure and gratitude into my daily routine,” says Wiking. Listening to the birds in the morning rather than reaching for your phone, enjoying an afternoon cup of tea while staring out the window for a few minutes, and making time to bake a treat are all things many of us can now add into our daily routines.

It’s also a good moment to spend time creating meals in the kitchen. For many of us, a pre-social-distancing lunch break meant eating a store-bought salad hunched over a computer. In the hyggelig world, this is a big no-no. “Food is much more than fuel. However simple the meal, make time to sit down and savor the moment,” Wiking agrees. “Hygge is about having cake without the guilt. Enjoying the good things in life and savoring the simple pleasures,” he says. Baking something for a friend, using your work-from-home time to take a long lunch, or relishing a piece of cake in the afternoon; but all within reason. “There is nothing excessive about hygge. That may sound dull, but the great thing about moderation is that you can’t overdo it,” writes Abrahams.

Even if you don’t have more time on your hands (many people are working and full-time parenting or looking after family members), adding more hygge to your life doesn’t mean a major lifestyle change. Wiking suggests kickstarting a hyggelig lifestyle with hygge emergency kits. “They can include candles, good-quality chocolate, tea, a blanket, and, naturally, a scarf. In Denmark, we experience scarf withdrawal syndrome, so it’s important to have one on you at all times.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest