Book Review for The little book of ‘Hygge’ by Meik Wiking

Denmark, often known as the happiest place on earth is down to 'Hygge' pronounced as 'Hooga'. Hygge cannot be described as a single emotion but more of an atmosphere and experience. Hygge has been called everything from 'the art of creating intimacy' to 'taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things'. It is about the feeling of home, a feeling of being safe and shielded from the world. This beautiful little book was written by Meik Wiking and who better to guide us through all things 'Hygge'. Meik is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the 'magic' of Danish life.

I cherish this little book and never tire of looking through it. It's captivating and a truly positive read. There is nothing more homely than snuggling down on the sofa, with a glass of wine and indulging through these delightful pages.

A colleague and good friend of mine, loves all things mindful and positive. He would often bring to work his books and ideas on how to live a stress free life. I am sure this is why we became friends. I am a book reader myself, in preference to trawling my way through the internet or listening to audio books. There is nothing I like more than an afternoon browsing through old book stores. This little book really drew my attention just by looking at it. The artwork and design of the cover looks happy in itself and conjures up a sense of calm and tranquillity. The transfusion of colours, shapes and simple text was enough to make me pick up the book and skim through the pages. The shapes and pictures on the cover are actually symbols of the Hygge manifesto.

From the first few pages I was hooked and tried to limit my time reading through this little guide. It is the type of book that warrants good lighting, a relaxing atmosphere and time on your hands to enjoy.

So what is Hygge?

To be honest, it’s a bit difficult to completely explain what this means? It cannot be translated as such, but ‘cosy’ is as close as you will get in English. ‘Hygge’ is purely Danish. Something can be ‘hyggelig’ (hygge-like). A ‘hyggelig’ living room or having a ‘hyggelig’ time with friends. A price cannot not be placed on ‘Hygge’. In fact the Danes would prefer a cheaper and more cosy night with friends rather than any of the top ‘fashionista’ venues. Somewhere cosy, with candlelight and a warm open fire, fleece blankets, hot drinks, good food are the components for a very ‘hyggelig’ time. Cosiness with friends and a sense of well-being would be an even closer description of ‘Hygge’.

‘Hygge’ is a word, a verb, an action and a noun. It describes many things in Danish life and somehow brings the whole ‘hyggelig’ to life. Here are some examples:

Fredagshygge - is ‘Hygge’ you have on a Friday, after a long week. Usually consisting of family time, all curled up on the sofa watching a good film or reading books and enjoying a hot chocolate drink.

Hyggebukser - those trousers you would never wear in public, but feel so comfy wearing and secretly your most favourite. Staying in your ‘Pj’s’ wrapped in your duvet 'kind of day'.

Hyggehjθrnet - to be in the mood for ‘Hygge'. 'I am in Hyggehjθrnet’.

Hyggekrog - a little corner or nook of a kitchen or living area where you can sit and have a ‘hyggelig’ time. A bit like a ‘snug’. That simple small space to cosy up with a magazine, listen to your favourite music and totally relax.

Hyggesnak - a chit-chat, a friendly conversation that does not involve politics, religion or controversial issues. A time for a catch up and relaxation with no threat of disgruntlement.

Hygge is not just a description of all things cosy, it also indicates a sense of safety, feeling safe with your friends or safely sitting at home.

Uhyggelite - (un-hygge) means creepy or scary. ‘Walking alone down a dark alleyway and hearing sounds behind you’ is very ‘uhyggelite’

‘Hygge’ is a lesson from Denmark. Living a life of ‘Hygge’ brings cosiness, family unity, a feeling of being safe, good food, hot drinks, open fires and candlelight. But most of all it brings peace and well-being.

Hygge - The Danish Way of Life

This little book tries to examine the lives of the Danes and why they are the happiest nation in Europe. They live their life in the present moment with a commitment to experiencing and savouring every given period of time. When relaxing with family at mealtimes or out socialising with friends, they are offline, no phone, no emails, no distractions. They drink coffee or hot chocolate and indulge in deep conversation and meaningful chat. Danes are fanatical about their hot drinks and cakes and a majority of people associate this with Hygge. Cakes and pastries, both the eating and baking (we're all familiar with Danish pastries and cinnamon buns) make everything 'hyggeligt'. Danes love the old ideals of warm coffee houses with beautiful rooms and interior, soft, cosy lighting and indulging in sweet pastry masterpieces with friends.

Whilst all of this sounds delightful and quite tasty, there is a downside to 'Hygge'. The Danes are very sociable but prefer smaller groups of friends for 'hyggeligt' time. Almost 60% of Danes say the best number of people for 'Hygge' is three to four. Danes are not good at inviting new people to their friendship circles. It would be considered less 'hyggeligt' if there were too many new people at an event. Getting into a social circle requires a lot of effort and loneliness along the way. It can be close to impossible to penetrate the social circles, maybe years of hard work and persistence. But once you are in - you are in, and will form a lifelong circle of 'hyggeligt' friends.

More About the Book

The book itself is beautifully illustrated throughout. Practically every page has photos, symbols, graphs or drawings. This adds to the content making it colourful and pleasurable to read. The quality of the book is sumptuous, making it an experience to just browse through the pages. There is so much information and guidelines to help you achieve 'Hygge' in your own home, as well as with your family and friends. There is a feeling of happiness and gratitude in this way of life, perhaps helping the reader to understand that the simpler things in life mean more than the materialistic possessions we seem to crave.

You can take a look at 'The Little Book of Hygge here

Author's Bio: 

Catherine Ellis is a Fitness Instructor/Personal Trainer and founder of Healthy Forever Fitness Motivation , a website that promotes health and well-being. Her mission is to help everyone feel good at any age.