We’d like to send you some happiness this Women’s Day. But it’s a bit tricky to wrap. And we can’t bottle it, or even send it as a digital download.
What we can do is share some ideas from the world’s pre-eminent happiness expert, who happens to live in the world’s happiest country, Denmark.
What can a Durbanite learn from a Dane? Let’s find out.
As a social scientist, Meik Wiking spends every day researching what makes people happy and what affects their subjective well-being. He started writing about the Danish art of living well, or Hygge as they call it.
Does that have something to do with hugs? Well, not exactly. Although the feelings you get from hugs – cosiness, warmth, comfort, belonging – are similar to the emotions associated with Hygge.
Pronounced Hoo-ga, Hygge is directly translated as cosy togetherness, although you can also experience it on your own. With a focus on simple, sensual living spaces and activities, it’s a breath of fresh air in a frenetic, more is never enough world. Instead of being about things, it is about an atmosphere and an experience.
Hygge promotes giving yourself and others a treat. It’s things the Danes do to savour the simple pleasures.
From food and drink to home spaces and décor, it is possible to create an environment where people feel relaxed, comfortable and connected.
Happiness is a personal journey. But it’s got a lot to do with our connectedness to others, feeling relaxed, safe, secure and a sense of togetherness. Sharing hygge moments, especially with food and drink in your home is classic.
Within the home, a hyggekrog is an essential. That’s a ‘nook’ or a place where you snuggle up with a blanket and a cup of tea.
Emergency Hygge Kit
With a short time, horizon, and maximum benefit in mind, let’s look at Wiking’s Hygge Emergency Kit. Here is a selection of items that you can keep on hand for when you need to recharge and re-fill your happiness cup:
- Candles. There’s something about the soft light and the dancing flames which immediately calm the senses. Danes have them everywhere – from the workplace to the bedroom.
- Chocolate. Think quality rather than quantity for a small treat.
- Your favourite tea. The choice is vast, but rooibos is a good ‘go-to’.
- A favourite book. There’s pleasure in reading for the fun of it. It’s a treat to escape into a good story and get to know new characters.
- A favourite film or series. It can be something old and nostalgic, or new and captivating. Watching is something to look forward to and can provide a brief respite from real life.
- Jam. It’s even better if a friend made it.
- A warm Even in Durban, it feels good to feel snug.
- A notebook. Write down the hyggelige moments you have had in the past month or two. But don’t just look back, also think about the hyggelige experiences you would like to have in the future. By planning, then experiencing and remembering these good times, you get to enjoy the moment three times.
- A nice
- Music. Create a Hygge playlist of music that resonates with you, probably featuring slow and soulful tunes.
Enjoy Women’s Day, or Women’s Month, we hope you find personal happiness as well as ‘togetherness’ this month.
Reference: The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. 2016. Penguin.