January, not a month most of us would consider our happiest month of the year. For many there are the post Christmas blues and the long, long wait until the next payday comes around. Not to mention the weather !
So when I was recently sent a copy of a book called A Very British Hygge, written by Simon Sinclair for Everest Home Improvements, I was fascinated to read that Danish people (where the word Hygge originates from) are considered the happiest nation on earth. An interesting fact considering they spend a huge proportion of their year in the dark and also have one of the highest costs of living in Europe. So what makes them a happy race of people and what can we British people learn from them ? It would seem it all boils down to being happy with what we have. Simple huh !
Spending time with our families has to be up there at the top of life’s simple pleasures. OK so I know life isn’t often like the Waltons (hope you remember who they were) but who doesn’t have those special memories of tucking their children into bed, a few minutes of story reading and those wonderful snuffly hugs as they snuggle down safe and warm at night when the wind and rain is lashing at the windows. Winter gives us the perfect opportunity to spend more time together, to slow down and rest up. Turn up the heating, light your candles, eat warming wintry meals, spending time with good friends, read books all these things are considered Hygge, we have been doing similar for centuries in this country, we just never had a name for it.
The Joy of small pleasures Hygge has been described as “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things”
Simon Sinclair author of A Very British Hygge
Maybe it’s my age, but it took me a while to realise what it was in life that truly made me happy (apart from my family of course) and it’s true. It’s the small, everyday things; a kind comment, a clean pile of washing, sitting down with a whole Sunday afternoon ahead of me to relax. Its not the trips to exotic lands (although those opportunities were wonderful) or shopping the latest season clothes and household must haves. I get a huge thrill from finding a treasure in a charity shop that I can transform into something beautiful for my home. Less is definitely more in our home as we had to learn to live with a very tight budget and funnily enough are better for it.
Taking pleasure from walking into a room that is uncluttered, clean and tidy, a place I can relax definitely is my kind of hygge. This said, it doesn’t mean you have to live in a show home. It’s about what works for you. Making a space in your home that you feel happy and relaxed in. Creating cosy areas in my home has always been important. Because I have always loved white, it can sometimes come across as cold and clinical so its important to ensure it feels warm and inviting. I do this with cushions, throws and rugs in the winter months. The Danes call these areas a hyggekrog – a nook.
Anytime of year is candle time for me. I have an abundance of them. Nothing says hygge like the warm glow of candlelight. Its also important they smell just right. Not too strong that they overpower the room but just a gentle hint of fragrance.
Hygge shouldn’t just be confined to the winter months. It’s a year round concept. I love nothing more than throwing open the windows and doors in the Spring and Summer (weather permitting). Fresh washing on the line and sitting outside enjoying the fresh air and watching the sky. Even if it rains there is still fun to be had. I spent many a happy day outside in the rain with my twin boys jumping in puddles and making memories.
Spring and Summer time British hygge is about bringing the outdoors inside. Flowers of course, barbeque’s, outside dining with friends and family. Conservatories come into their own during this time too, often these light bright rooms can be overlooked. Throw open the doors, have light or no window dressings , fill them with plants and comfy seating, low level lighting & lanterns.
Photo credit : Everest
Above all, whatever the time of year remember to breath, take time out and enjoy living a British hygge life
This post was written in collaboration with Everest Home Improvements and the book – A Very British Hygge written by Simon Sinclair. All words and opinions are my own.