It seems that every second picture on Instagram and Pinterest is tagged #hygge.
But I have come to realise that hygge is so much more than just cute pictures of woollen socks and piles of books. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish concept of feeling cosy and comfortable, creating a sense of wellbeing and contentment. It’s about enjoying life’s simple pleasures with your nearest and dearest, and finding peace within your environment.
Ever since I saw the HerCanberra article 25 Ways To Get A Hygge Home I have been obsessed with the pursuit of hygge and incorporating it into my everyday life. I was a bit adrift in life like a boat lost at sea and the concept spoke to my soul. I realised that by focusing on becoming content in my lifestyle and myself worked wonders for the depression and anxiety I had been living with for more than a year.
As I continued in my pursuit of hygge I unearthed so many other elements.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
If you type ‘hygge’ into Pinterest you will find an overwhelming amount of comfy beds with artfully tossed throw blankets and cushions, stacks of books next to a roaring fire and people in jumpers hugging mugs of hot chocolate. And while this is the on-trend interpretation of hygge, it’s important to know that hygge looks very different depending on whose home you are in.
The importance of hygge is about creating an environment that makes you feel good and makes your heart feel happy when you are at home. If that’s an abundance of pillows, great, but if it’s a collection of neat minimalist items, that’s just as good. As long as you find joy in the décor it can be as messy, neat, unique, trendy, rustic, or modern as you would like.
So focus on the things that make you feel happy.
HOLDING HANDS WITH MINIMALISM
Minimalism and hygge are similar in concepts, and while the term minimalism conjures up images of white walls, modern furnishings and clean sharp lines, they are symbiotic. Possessions in both minimalist and hygge culture are kept because they are valued, they are useful or they are needed. This could be a vase or a painting that you value for its beauty, a throw blanket that you use during the winter, or a mug that you need to drink out of.
Minimalism focuses on being useful or needed as necessary, and while there is a simple frivolousness that creates a welcoming environment in hygge culture, the minimalist act of decluttering and ridding yourself of unnecessary items is of huge importance.
By having less stuff, and focusing on less things (or as Mark Manson calls it “choosing what to give your fucks to” – another important hygge lesson) you can slow down and spend time on enjoyable activities that promote contentment and wellness.
Minimalism and hygge look very different, but simplicity is at both of their cores. So start considering whether you actually need 24 sets of cutlery, that third potato masher, or even that chair that never gets used and doesn’t exactly fit in. If you don’t need it, use it, or want it, get rid of it.
LIVE SIMPLY, LIVE SUSTAINABLY
Getting rid of unwanted items is a great way to promote a hygge lifestyle and focus on the important things, but you also need to spend your time and consider what is valuable to you at your very core. For me, being a vegan and reducing my carbon footprint on this world is one of my core values, but I began to realise that I wasn’t being as sustainable as I could be.
There are many things you can be doing to be more environmentally friendly such as don’t print from the computer, use a keep cup when getting coffee, don’t take a plastic drinking straw, and make sure all glass, paper and plastic are put in the recycling bin. But honestly, this is baseline stuff.
I started shopping at bulk produce stores and bought the ingredients I needed (and only needed) in glass jars I had brought with myself that I recycled from other jarred foods. I used sustainable cotton bags when buying salad or mushrooms instead of plastic ones, and I started religiously using my keep cup while I flirted with my barista.
One of the biggest projects I started undertaking was the act of composting. There are generally a lot of fruits and vegetables incorporated into my daily diet, so I bought myself a tin compost bin and started putting my food scraps in there. However, I wasn’t fully prepared to buy myself a big compost bin, get some worms, and use it for gardening. That just wasn’t me. So I found that a community garden near my work that had a public composting unit for the volunteers to use as part of the community garden. It was a perfect solution, and it meant I was sending less reusable items to the landfill.
SO WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?
My pursuit of hygge might have started out with an adorable new throw blanket or rug, but eventually, the concept became so much bigger than just being happy in my home.
It helped me re-shape my mind, re-examine my values, and create a simpler existence without having to go back in time. I had more time to drink wine and read books and more positive feelings of well-being and happiness than I ever had before.
I am still constantly in the pursuit of hygge but something inside me enjoys the fact that there is always something new to discover.
So I urge you to let the hygge into your life – you just don’t know what path it will lead you down!