The simple flippant and sarcastic answer to the above question would be… “Go to Denmark, Dopey!”
But no, I’ll try to be sensible for a change. It’s a fairly difficult task for me, I’m not one of those people predisposed to taking life or myself too seriously (most of the time) but I’ll give it a shot. And just before I go any further – no – hygge is not some sort of New Psychoactive Substance. Although I suppose it could be, especially when you consider it’s sudden and almost addictive popularity amongst those who are searching for some escape from the normalities (aka dreariness) of their daily life.
Because of that apparent popularity alone, there can’t be many people who haven’t heard of hygge by now, whether they can actually pronounce it correctly is another matter. You see too many of us are preoccupied with predominant desires and aspirations based mostly upon what they see (or think they see) other people doing or possessing. The following of social fashion, at least in middle-class middle England, means that hygge is now almost de rigueur in some trendy social circles. In a way, the hygge ‘epidemic’ could be seen as reminiscent of the upsurge in popularity previously enjoyed by cocaine, amongst the trend-setting yuppies of the last millennium.
This Danish word, pronounced “hoo-ga”, 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…(BBC Magazine)
Apparently, according to the above article, there’s now even a college in the UK which is teaching their students the concept of hygge – it’s said to make homes nicer and people happier. It is interesting to see that many of the so-called ‘happiest’ countries in our world are located in Scandinavia. In my experience, it’s actually an area of the world I’d love to relocate to however; mostly due to the cold weather, I’d probably have to leave my wife in England and that’s simply not a realistic option.
The Little Book of Hygge – ‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’ You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right…(Amazon.co.uk)
To me life is about a series of options, what you actually do with that set of variables is usually mostly down to your personal choice. It’s about making plans and having goals however they should never be so rigid they become immovable. Neither should they be immune to adjustments when circumstances or known facts change, because they do.
What I can’t understand is; how come so many people in our society continually base their happiness and contentment upon little more than their perceptions of what others have or do? Also, why do so many of us always appear to be in competition with others, to be at least as ‘happy’ as their competitors are, if not more so?
The ‘official’ tourism site says; “Hygge is as Danish as pork roast and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” I can easily subscribe to that ethos but, what makes someone else happy, won’t necessarily do the same for me.
The Scandinavian origins of ‘hygge’ – ‘Hygge’ actually comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well-being.” It first appeared in Danish writing in the 18th century and has been embraced by the Danes ever since! (Visit Denmark)
So hygge isn’t even Danish, despite what many of the ‘trend-setters’ might think. Just like many aspects of our life, much of what you see or believe isn’t always what it appears to be. It was interesting listening to today’s radio phone-in (Jeremy Vine show – BBC Radio 2) when hygge was the topic under discussion. Obviously there were followers of the trend, as well as the nay sayers. Two expats tended to sum up the puerile nature of the arguments and polarity of opinions for me.
A British man , (Merseyside expat), living in rural Denmark and married with a Danish wife pointed out; although he understood and (partly) embraced the hygge concept himself, most Danish people might be hyggeaholics whilst in their homes but the majority were mostly, “miserable buggers out in the street.” The trendy belief that ‘England must learn hygge from the Danish was also countered by a Danish female currently living in rural England. She was happy to report that the British already possess hygge in large quantities, although mostly in the rural type areas she has experienced.The same couldn’t be said (in the main) for her personal experiences of our more urban dwellers.
I wondered… could this be the common thread here? Is your personal level of hygge actually tied to where you reside? Could this be why so many work in cities but often, at usually at their earliest opportunity, run to the hills… Mostly expecting all the indigenous rural folk to jump to their tune and adopt their perceptions of social cohesion and/or fashionable trends? Isn’t it a funny old world?
To my mind we are far to occupied with continually aspiring to the (mostly) financial and material status of others. That fictional place that too many see as their nirvana but should also realise; most of what makes you happy and content isn’t material and certainly can’t be purchased. Yes we can all hold that desire to win the next big lottery jackpot however; is that a rational expectation, what are the chances we will logically get that big win? It’s an irrational expectation, the jackpot chance is 1 in 13,983,816 or approximately 1 in 14 million. Ok I can accept that to have hope in our life is good, without hope we have little however; that hope also must have an element of realism attached to it… if we don’t want to be disappointed that is.
One of the major reasons behind so many people lacking the hygge they desire (and often masking their unhappiness with substances) is logically; their inherent and irrational desires for unattainable popularity, or their unrealistic expectations of many life events often are not realised. This actually means that mostly, due to those inflated expectations, many of us are often destined to be sadly disappointed.
Try being a little more rational and logical about your expectations and aspirations in life for a change and who knows… the hygge many of you so desperately seek will probably follow shortly after!