HYGGE - The Beginner's Guide
From living in the moment to appreciating the smaller things in life, we unpack the Danish art of wellbeing.
Listening to the rain pattering on the roof as you cosy up on the couch; five friends sitting round a dinner table laughing their way through the night; an ice cold lemonade accompanied by a new book on a sunny summer’s afternoon, a bubble bath by candlelight at the end of a long week...
There’s something inherently soothing about listing activities like this. They prompt an inner sense of cosiness or calm, and let’s face it: make us feel a little bit smug. But more so than this, they capture the essence of Hygge – the Danish approach to life and mental wellbeing that celebrates relaxation, indulgence and gratitude. It’s as intrinsic to Danish culture as yoga is to India, or coffee to Turkey and is widely believed to be the reason behind their status as some of the happiest people in the world.
What’s it all about and why does it feel especially poignant right now? We’ll tell you all below.
What does Hygge actually mean?
Hygge comes from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console”, and it’s closest direct translation in English is the word “hug”. According to the dictionary, hygge is “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that brings about a feeling of contentment or well-being.”
So… a slice of cake and a coffee using your favourite crockery; the smell of freshly baked bread; a weekend away in the middle of nowhere; meditating in the early morning; a warm towel after a cold swim… these are all hygge-approved activities because of how they make you feel. It’s a merging of tangible and tangible factors (atmosphere, surroundings,actions) that come together to make a moment meaningful, however simple it may be. The Danish believe it’s an appreciation of the little things that allow you to relax and reset, leading to a better quality of life.
It’s not a trend, it’s a way of life...
As Danish actress-turned-author Marie Tourell Søderberg puts it in Hygge: The Danish Art Of Happiness: “Danes would be lost without the word hygge. They tell each other how much they are looking forward to hygge together, they point out how hyggelig a situation is while they are hygging, and afterwards they like to talk about what a great hygge time they have had together.”
So if Hygge is something you feel, not something you ‘have’...
Where do ‘things’ come in? While hygge is all about promoting an internal sense of wellbeing, we like to look at decor as ‘scaffolding’ for this. Our homes are our sanctuaries, and the places we retreat to to escape the chaos of daily life, so creating the right atmosphere is important. We’re firm believers that a happy home translates to a happier life with the items we own serving a purpose, rather than viewing them as “stuff”. A couch holds memories of special times with loved ones or restorative moments alone; the scent of your favourite candle soothes, and the sight of your most-loved chair once you’ve clocked off work melts the edge right off.
Is Hygge season specific?
While the word originated in the northern hemisphere and the idea for “cosiness” generally goes hand in hand with colder weather, hygge encapsulates wellbeing in a broader sense. The best part about this is that there are no set rules – it’s up to you to define what feels best for you, regardless of the temperature, season or time of day.
Why does hygge feel especially important right now?
According to Søderberg: “It’s about stripping away the anxieties of modern living and embracing the simple things that have nothing to do with wealth or status. In a hectic age of rapid consumerism and traumatic news events, it’s a valuable antidote.”
So this year, our challenge to you is to see how and where you can bring a sense of hygge into your own life, whether that’s setting time aside for yourself and the activities that make you happy or creating a sense of calm in your space. Hygge has always been an intrinsic part of the SOFA COMPANY values – after all, we were born in Denmark – which is why we’re here to help and passionate about optimising the little moments in your life that make all the difference.
Make yourself at home, because next up, we’ve got a guide to creating a sense of Hygge in your space.
Director | CSR