On the happiness index, Denmark is rated as the happiest country in the world and, apparently, Australia is not far behind them. I have been reading a lot lately that the Danes owe their happiness to something they call Hygge (pronounced hew-ga). There is no equivalent English word but it’s essence is cosiness, contentment and a sense of wellbeing all stemming from the simple everyday things we do and share.
The Danes enjoy their free time, as do we Aussies – we both look forward to Friday night and the end of the working week with the weekend stretching out before us. Indeed, we Australians have a saying: “Everybody’s working for the weekend” – we even have a song about it! In fact Friday and Monday office chat usually revolves around what are you doing/did you do on the weekend?
I relate to Hygge and believe I live a very Hygge-centric life. From the candles I have burning around the house to snuggling into the doona on a Saturday morning enjoying a mug of English breakfast tea, to settling in to watch another series of Spiral (Engrenages) with my one and only, to cuddling Angus the Golden Retriever, to pottering around the kitchen making a favourite recipe, to welcoming friends to share food and wine and laugh and talk, to savour that cup of coffee, to listen to that favourite song. Yes, I love my Hyggeful life.
For the last couple of years and again this New Year’s Eve, my New Year’s resolution has been, and will be, to live more ‘in the moment’. For me, this is my way of making my Hygge. This I am learning from my hairy child, Angus. From his sheer joy at receiving his morning breakfast biscuit to rolling around on the floor with his favourite toy to jumping on the couch and falling asleep after his walk. Whatever he is doing now, this minute is the best thing – not what’s going to happen tonight, tomorrow or in six months time. Maybe (for me) it’s an age thing and that as we get older we realise that time is more precious and the things we do habitually and take for granted, we should perhaps contemplate and relish them just a little bit more and become more conscious of how good they make us feel and the sense of comfort and wellbeing they give. I wish I had come to this realisation earlier in life whilst the Danes are very fortunate to be born and raised living their lives with Hygge.
Denmark and Australia may be physically thousands of kilometres apart but there is not that much between us where Hygge is concerned – we just haven’t found a word for it yet!