The World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations and now in its fifth year, has consistently seen Denmark scoring near the top of the charts for overall happiness. In 2016, they were voted the happiest nation on earth, and in 2017 have just been nudged into second place by neighbouring Norway. So what’s the secret of Denmark’s success?
The concept of hygge is fast becoming one of the Dane’s best known exports. It’s pronouced ‘hoo-ga’, and originally meant ‘wellbeing’. Now, it’s developed into a concept that it’s very difficult to translate. There are elements of cosiness, togetherness and mindfulness, all mixing together to create a positive, secure feeling.
Hygge usually has social elements to it, and involves spending time with people in a comforting environment. You can ‘hygge’ on your own, though, to find a moment of calm and relaxation – getting into a hot bath with your favourite scented bubblebath and all the time in the world could be one person’s nirvana, while for another it could be snuggling on the sofa on a Sunday morning with a mug of hot chocolate, the dog and a perfect pain au chocolate.
While you might think that hygge is a winter-only concept, it really transcends the season. Here are our top tips for how to create your own hygge cocoon in your home, Danish-style.
Candles should be at the top of the list when you’re ‘hygge-ing’ your home! Candlelight is soft and intimate, and instantly creates a warmer atmosphere.
Adding a scent will help to lift or change your mood even more – choose a citrussy scent like lemongrass or orange blossom for instant uplift, while the homely aroma of cinnamon or the evocative fragrance of flowers will create an atmosphere of comfort. The Danes have even developed specific hygge fragrances!
There are lots of little things you can do around the home to help yourself find your own ‘hygge hotspot’. Spray a little of your favourite perfume onto a card strip and place it on the top of the radiator.
Bring fresh flowers into the house – a bouquet of wild hedgerow flowers stuffed into a jamjar work just as well as an expensive bouquet of roses from a florist. In fact, they’ll work better as they’ll give you happy memories of a countryside walk when you look at them!
If flowers aren’t in season, use brightly coloured leaves or buds. In you live near a beach, pick up interesting stones and shells each time you go and pile them into bowls.
Get it together
Hygge is primarily about spending time with friends in your home. You don’t have to plan eight-course formal dinner parties – just provide a table, chairs and some cutlery, and ask each person to bring a dish with them for sharing.
In the summer, you don’t even have to bother with tables and chairs – just throw some rugs down on the lawn, light a few candles and open the fizz!
Enjoy your home
Most of us have far too much to do these days, and are constantly rushing from one thing to the next. There’s little point in making lots of changes to your home if you’re not around to enjoy them!
Put 20 minutes aside everyday – if you can’t find that time all in one go, two sessions of 10 minutes each is fine. Sit down, enjoy your coffee, walk round the garden, light your candles and discover your own inner hygge.