This past year brought an increase to the trend of hygge (pronounced HOO-GA). I had heard of the trend, but didn’t really know much about what it was about. So when the book “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living,” by Meik Wiking came across my desk at work, I immediately checked it out.
There are many definitions of hygge around the world. Americans might think of it as coziness, or hominess. It is mainly about comfort, well-being, and togetherness. Hygge is a night playing board games and drinking with friends, it’s a weekend trip spent hiking or camping, it’s a hearty stew with mulled wine in the winter.
Of course hygge sounds amazing! But the point I really got from this book is that the Danish take hygge way above and beyond what other cultures do, and Wiking hypothesizes that this may be the reason Denmark is consistently ranked one of the happiest countries to live in. I enjoyed this book so much that I was curled up under a blanket (can we say hygge anyone?!) reading it and finished it in one day! It was a great reminder to slow down, get comfy, and enjoy the little things.
As much as I really enjoyed learning about hygge, and the emphasis that Danes place on it, I wish this book spent more time trying to connect the hygge to how it makes people happy, or how to balance hygge with our busy lifestyles. Wiking very briefly mentions that even Danes have responsibilities to deal with that aren’t hygge, but doesn’t spend much time on how to balance the two. Is a game night with a few friends once a month enough? How much hygge is too much? Obviously, Wiking is writing from the Danish point of view, but he writes about several other countries enough that it would have been interesting to see what other countries do for hygge.
All in all, this book taught me about something I didn’t know about before, from a culture that I didn’t really know much about. Hygge is definitely something I would like to explore more in the future. I also plan to read more about the Happiness Research Institute that Meik Wiking runs in Copenhagen. I’m very interested in learning more about how people research happiness when so many different things make different people happy.