10 ways to em­brace hygge

dis­cover the Dan­ish con­cept of cosi­ness

Weight Watchers Magazine (Australia) - - Contents -

De­spite its long, dark win­ters, Den­mark is cur­rently rated the most con­tented na­tion, ac­cord­ing to the World Hap­pi­ness Re­port – and the con­cept of hygge (pro­nounced ‘hooga’) is an in­te­gral part of Dan­ish life. Hygge means com­fort and a sense of cosy well­be­ing and to­geth­er­ness. It’s about cher­ish­ing your­self and de­light­ing in sim­ple plea­sures. No won­der, then, it was one of last year’s big­gest life­style trends in Europe. Here are some easy ways to bring a lit­tle dose of Dan­ish cosi­ness into your life.

1GO FOR MAX­I­MUM COM­FORT Hygge means warmth and com­fort. Not sur­pris­ingly, such a feel­ing starts at home. “Dan­ish homes typ­i­cally have throws or blan­kets on the sofa for ex­tra cosi­ness, as well as lots of cush­ions,” ex­plains He­len Rus­sell, au­thor of The Year of Liv­ing Dan­ishly. To be told your house is hyggelig is a huge com­pli­ment in Scan­di­navia – it means wel­com­ing and friendly (some­thing you def­i­nitely don’t need a shiny new kitchen to ac­com­plish).

2CREATE A NOOK In Dan­ish, what you’re af­ter is a hyggekrog: that place in a room where you love to curl up with a book, a blan­ket and a hot bev­er­age. “Danes love their comfy space. We feel re­laxed, that we have con­trol over our sit­u­a­tion and we aren’t ex­posed to the un­pre­dictable,” says Meik Wik­ing, CEO of the Hap­pi­ness Re­search In­sti­tute in Copen­hagen and au­thor of The Lit­tle Book of Hygge.

3HIDE YOUR SMARTPHONE Make your hyggekrog a tech-free zone. Re­search by the Univer­sity of Es­sex, UK, found that just the pres­ence of a smartphone can neg­a­tively af­fect the close­ness and con­nec­tion you feel to your part­ner and loved ones and can lower the qual­ity of face-to-face con­ver­sa­tion – all things that are fun­da­men­tal to hygge.

4LEAVE WORK ON TIME In Den­mark, spend­ing time with loved ones is pri­ori­tised, and work­ing late or on week­ends is con­sid­ered weird. “One pre­dic­tor of whether we are happy or not is the qual­ity of our so­cial re­la­tion­ships,” says Wik­ing. To make sure you en­joy to­gether time, aim to leave work as soon as you can, to spend more time with your part­ner, fam­ily or friends. About 20 min­utes be­fore you’re due to leave, wind down what you’re work­ing on so you can stroll out the door on time.

5BAN TV DIN­NERS In most Scan­di­na­vian house­holds, get­ting to­gether around the table to eat din­ner and talk over the day is a must. “Shar­ing food is often the miss­ing piece in the jig­saw puz­zle of why cer­tain pop­u­la­tions have greater con­tent­ed­ness and longevity,” says Signe Jo­hansen, au­thor of How to Hygge: The Se­crets of Nordic Liv­ing. “Re­searchers now in­creas­ingly ac­knowl­edge that the so­cial con­text of eat­ing mat­ters as much as the food we put in our mouths. The com­pany of oth­ers can help you to re­ally en­joy your food.”

6TREAT YOUR­SELF “Hygge is about be­ing kind to your­self – giv­ing your­self a treat and giv­ing your­self, and each other, a break from the de­mands of healthy liv­ing,” says Wik­ing. The Danes eat meat, cakes and pas­tries, but in mod­er­a­tion and – cru­cially – with­out guilt. It seems to work: Den­mark comes 24 places be­hind Aus­tralia (and 26 be­hind New Zealand) on the most-obese coun­try list, ac­cord­ing to the OECD.

7CREATE A DIN­ING GROUP While Aussies grav­i­tate to­wards the pub to so­cialise, the Danes con­gre­gate in each other’s houses, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the win­ter. Hav­ing a group of friends you can in­vite over reg­u­larly is won­der­ful, but if you don’t cur­rently have that, think about join­ing a din­ner party club (find one at meetup. com). “Be­ing part of a group gives you a sense of place and be­long­ing, and of be­ing part of some­thing big­ger which is, broadly speak­ing, very pos­i­tive,” says Dr Alex Haslam, pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Queens­land and co-au­thor of The So­cial Cure.

8REFINE THE ART OF SIM­PLIC­ITY The se­cret to hygge get-to­geth­ers is to make them to­tally un­pre­ten­tious, says Jo­hansen. “No starched white table­cloths, no elab­o­rate din­ing rit­ual or fancy cut­lery, just old-fash­ioned hos­pi­tal­ity at its best.” She sug­gests serv­ing up a Scan­di­na­vian smor­gas­bord of seafood, pick­les, bread and but­ter and sour cream, along with wine. On cold days, a hearty op­tion is a big pot of risotto for ev­ery­one to share, like the Baked fen­nel and lemon risotto on page 87.

9LIGHT A CAN­DLE One easy way to make your home hyggelig is with light­ing – the lower, the bet­ter. “No recipe for hygge is com­plete with­out can­dles,” says Wik­ing. “When Danes are asked what they most as­so­ciate with hygge, an over­whelm­ing 85 per cent will men­tion can­dles.” To be au­then­tic, he sug­gests steer­ing away from scented can­dles, which Danes con­sider ar­ti­fi­cial, and opt­ing for nat­u­ral beeswax.

10WEAR A SCARF Okay, at some point you’re go­ing to have to go out­side, and the weather may have turned. You don’t have to leave that sense of hygge be­hind – bring it with you by wear­ing a big scarf, sug­gests Wik­ing. As he points out, “You can’t hygge when you’re cold.” #

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