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Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.
Hygge has been called everything from “the art of creating intimacy,” “coziness of the soul,” and “the absence of annoyance,” to “taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things,” “cozy togetherness,” and my personal favorite, “cocoa by candlelight”.
Hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness – it's about finding joy in the experience of each and every day. It's about finding an appreciation for the small things that add huge value to our lives.
This appreciation manifests itself in Danish culture because hygge is also about togetherness and sharing. While you can experience hygge by yourself, the Danes put a lot of emphasis on spending time in intimate groups. The core ideas are around well-being, coziness, warmth, safety, intimacy, and gratitude.
You’ll need to make a conscious effort to create the right environment.
Feeling at home requires a homey place, so unless you create one, you’ll have a hard time getting into the right mood. It’s why the Danish are obsessed with candles, lighting and lamp design, and natural elements like wood in interior design.
Fun fact: At 6 kg or 13 lbs of candles burned per person per year, the Danes are Europe’s number one candlelight junkies. They also have almost 2 rooms per person in the living space.
When creating a cozy and welcoming experience, we need to consider the impact of both sounds and silence. Sound affects how we relate to the space around us, and it can be very distracting – particularly if it's a manufactured sound.
Whether you choose to experience hygge alone, or with other people, it's crucial to practice mindfulness and "be in the here and now." Since hygge is about enjoying what's around us, living in the moment, and being free of distractions, it means that technology should be switched off and ignored.
The Danish philosophy seems to be that if you genuinely enjoy eating something, then you can delight in cakes, cookies, cheese, coffee, and so on. The idea here is that life is about enjoying pleasures, and not feeling without or restricted.
In many other cultures, mindful eating isn't practiced as often as it should be, and instant gratification results in consuming without enjoyment. The hygge philosophy is to celebrate indulgent treats, to share them, and experience them slowly. Savor the moment. And don't rush what you're putting into your body.
In fact, they have a word called kaffe-hygge. By bringing together lighting, atmosphere, warmth, beverages, and delicious homemade treats, the simple act of meeting a friend for coffee can be intensely hygge-like.
However, kaffe-hygge also brings together the idea of good quality and ethically sourced ingredients.
The difference between Denmark and the rest of Europe may be attributed to their time spent interacting with their communities because Danes leave work early whereas most Europeans stay at work until 5:30 p.m., leaving no time for after-work gatherings or family dinners due to long hours at the office.
It isn’t surprising that hygge (the Danish way of creating intimacy) involves spending time with loved ones since touching others makes us feel warm and secure by releasing oxytocin into our bloodstreams, which causes bonding feelings between parents and children.
Ethics, equality, fairness, and organic are some of the other words you're likely to find in the hygge lexicon.
The Danes pay high taxes, but you'll seldom hear them grumble about this. Despite the high taxation, Denmark is a very equitable country, and the taxes are used on free quality education, free healthcare, excellent infrastructure, an efficient transport system, and an abundance of cultural and recreational facilities.
The mindset of the Danish population is that community is paramount. Whereas other countries adopt a singular, and "me" attitude, the Danes are all about the collective "
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