I found the secret to some of the world’s happiest countries — it’s called “Hygge”

Hygge — The first Danish word I’ve proudly added to my otherwise, rather limited and Aussie vocabulary

Pronounced “Hoo-ga” — Hygge is a danish concept that is said to make homes nicer and people happier. Of course, when I read about this, on a dreary Monday morning, I immediately started stalking the internet fanatically for: “HYGGE” as well as “HYGGE AT WORK” to find out as much as I could about this beautiful and weird little concept before starting my working week.

It’s no secret that I find Monday morning’s (the day you are the furthest possible away from your weekend) extremely difficult. I thought I needed to know more about this “Hygge” and especially, CAN I INCORPORATE THIS INTO MY WORKING DAY SOMEHOW?

The answer is YES — we’ll get to that in a minute. But for now, some basics –

Examples of Hygge (a beginner’s edition):

  1. Placing a small vase of bright flowers at your office desk;
  2. Changing into your warm, cosy ugg boots at your desk, for when you’re not in meetings or traipsing around hurriedly, in and out of the office;
  3. “Sitting by the fire on a cold night, wearing a woolly jumper, while drinking mulled wine and stroking a dog — probably surrounded by candles. That’s definitely “hygge too”

Justin Parkinson, writer for BBC writes that the Danish word is usually translated into English as “cosiness”. But it’s much more than that, say its aficionados — an entire attitude to life that helps Denmark to vie with Switzerland and Iceland to be the world’s happiest country.

Helen Russell, author of The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country says:

“Hygge seems to me to be about being kind to yourself — indulging, having a nice time, not punishing or denying yourself anything.

There isn’t so much enforced deprivation in Denmark. Instead you’re kinder to yourselves and so each other.”

I’m finding that Hygge is like what we’d call “nesting” and is very much rooted in mindfulness as it’s about doing little things that lead to you enjoying the present moment. Today, I immediately plan to start making my office space — my home away from home — a more “hygge” friendly place.

Like FENG SHUI-ING — but HYGGE-ING

After all, I am there 8 hours a day, almost every day of the week. I may as well stop fighting against this working day reality.

A fellow Medium writer, Ronna Corlin, shares an article on this incorporation of Hygge in our office jobs (how to be happier at work) here — but, if you’re time poor, some of my favourite suggestions were:

Hygge at work:

  1. Purchasing a stainless steel lunchbox you can fill with cozy comfort food, maybe even leftovers from last night’s dinner. You will look forward to meals more, and eat healthier on a more consistent basis if it’s pre-packed (I’m not sure of the relevance of the stainless steel — but I imagine its because plastic is bad for the environment, and really, everything for that matter);
  2. Stepping outside during your lunch break to force yourself into nature and out of the stuffy, air-conditioned office. Take your shoes off and run your feet through the grass at the park, let your eyes readjust to the natural light and take in your surroundings;
  3. Look for ways to make the communal staff room a more comfortable, relaxing place for you and your work colleagues. After all, some days you’re hit with torrential rain and you can’t get outside and sniff the roses (literally). On these days its good to know you have an office lunch room that’s not a drag to be in. I’m thinking: fun staff photos on the wall, a stuffed bean bag or two, oil burners, cushions and pillows. I mean, If I wanted to sit on a stiff office chair for my entire lunch break then I’d go back to my desk and sit there, wouldn’t I. Ask your boss if you can make this into your side project;
  4. Placing some bright, beautiful flowers at your desk or an oil burner to delight your senses.

So, I’m off to do all of those things and more today —the very thought, alone, has dispersed by aforementioned MONDAYITIS

Happy Hygge-ing!

x Bec

Also published on Medium here.

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