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Health and wellbeing | 29.12.2016

How to hygge yourself into being happy in 2017

 

Are you happy? It’s a simple question and one I think we should ask ourselves as we say goodbye to one year and prepare to begin a new year.

How busy and stressed were you in 2016? How present and calm were you? Did you make time for yourself and were you kind to yourself? Did you connect deeply with your family and friends regularly? 

I dare say many of you felt overworked, stressed, time poor and tired. If that’s the case, now is the time to set your intentions for 2017 and resolve to do whatever you need to do to bring more happiness into your life. 

Take inspiration from the happy Danes. Denmark was ranked the world’s happiest nation in the 2016 World Happiness Report, scoring 7.526 out of a possible 10 points (Australia came 9th). Various factors come into play with the rankings, such as social support, life expectancy, freedom to make choices, perception of corruption and so on. You can download a copy of the report here – it’s fascinating reading.

Denmark’s number one rating prompted people to begin examining why the great Danes are so happy and one concept that has emerged – and spawned a number of books – is hygge. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gaa) is a Danish word that describes a feeling or mood that is derived from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, everyday moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. It's literal English translation is 'cosiness'.

I love the idea of hygge. Not just the cutesy aspects – like making sure you have cosy areas in your home where you can snuggle up with a book, or lighting scented candles, or savouring a special meal with friends. 

What I really love about it is that behind it lies an emphasis on self-kindness. We pressure ourselves so much these days, especially women. We pressure ourselves to look good, to eat well, to exercise, to dress well – and we feel guilty when we don’t measure up to the standards we’ve set for ourselves. 

Hygge takes the harshness out and makes life more about nurturing, savouring, relishing, being present, slowing down, ditching the guilt, appreciating things like beauty, warmth, love and gentleness. In our world wracked with media stories of doom and gloom, war, poverty, climate change, financial stress, inequality – we need something to bring happiness and gentleness into our lives.  

The Danes have absorbed the idea of hygge into their very beings as a way to get through the long, cold winter. I think 2017 is the year we can all embrace hygge and see if it helps us be as happy as the Danish people.

In her book Hygge – a celebration of simple pleasures, Charlotte Abrahams suggests these ways to bring more hygge into your life: 

Use warm light

Use diffusing light shades, pendant lights and warm bulbs. Light candles as often as possible. Create cozy zones in your home – think fireplaces, two-seater sofas in the corner of a room with a blanket, floor rugs, cushions, modestly beautiful and comfortable furniture made with superb craftsmanship, rich timbers like teak, comforting accessories (like a wall of family photos or a shelf of glass jars filled with nurturing foodstuffs), handmade objects. 

Work/life balance

Denmark is a very family-friendly society. Couples are entitled to 32 weeks paid parental leave, they work a standard 37-hour week and take five weeks paid holiday leave a year. It’s not unusual to see dads dropping the kids off to school or picking them up, and it’s not frowned upon to leave work early due to family commitments. Reassess your workload and see if there’s a way you could negotiate more flexibility with your boss. 

Eating for pleasure (ie. avoid feeding your health obsession)

Shared meals with friends and family is very hygge-inducing and it’s not about being restrictive with food – good guilt has no place at the hygge table. Because hygge requires full and equal participation, fussy food preferences are frowned upon during social meals with friends. Eat slowly, keep the conversation harmonious and give your guests cake – it makes any get-together a celebration. 

Get involved in your local community

Joining clubs, community organisations and volunteering all contribute to a sense of connectedness with your local community. It reduces loneliness and depression and everyone wins. 

Celebrate simplicity

Make your own coffee on the stove, stand and savour the smell as it percolates. Have a beautiful tea or coffee cup or mug that feels good to drink from. Grow veggies and pick from your garden each day. Have a picnic, light a fire, peg clothes perfectly on an outdoor line in the sunshine rather than throwing them hurriedly into a dryer, bake something, fill a jug with flowers. As you do all of these things, slow down and focus on the moment. 

know when to Raise the white flag

When you’ve pushed yourself to the limit and you're burnt out, you need to give yourself a break (ideally, do this before you burn out). Danish people believe hygge is about ‘making time to let your soul catch up with your body’. To practice self-kindness, treat yourself to little rituals like going for a walk in nature, getting up early to read, taking the time to chat to a friend without doing anything else, having a warm bath, make your bed with freshly ironed sheets, hop in and bliss out.  

So there you have it. It's delicious just reading about all the ways Danish people do life, and do it well. From all of us here at Mukti Organics, we wish you a wonderful 2017 full of love, health, happiness and abundance. See you in the New Year!

Have you heard about hygge? What plans do you have to bring more happiness into your life in 2017? leave a comment and you'll go into our bi-monthly prize draw.

@bymukti

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