Book Review: Hygge – Discovering the Danish Art of Happiness

February 10, 2021

Long ago, I read somewhere that Denmark was considered one of the happiest countries on the globe, but I took that as merely good marketing.

It seems as though the Danish actually have a lifestyle whereby they can make this very claim.

I became curious about hygge after reading about it on a friend's blog, Jeanine’s Gingerbread Cottage As a result, I borrowed the book “Hygge: Discovering The Danish Art of Happiness” by Olivia Telford from Prime Reading.  

 


According to the author, hygge is a word that derives itself from a Norwegian word meaning “well-being.” Accurately pronounced “hoo-gah,” hygge “embraces the idea of positivity and enjoyment that comes from everyday experiences.” Hygge is cultivating a certain mindset that closely pays attention to one’s mind and surroundings. (p.9)

While hygge has started to become popular in the Western part of the world, Telford focuses on the fundamentals of hygge in how the Danes experience it.

How is hygge a lifestyle in Denmark? There are many factors why hygge is popular and a way of life that Danes strive for every day. Considering that Denmark is known for its long, cold, and dark winters, hygge helps maintain a positive mindset when Danes must often be inside. They focus on the enjoyment of the simple things of life, those little moments of comfort that help “brighten up even the darkest of days, making hygge an indispensable tool to facilitate overall well-being.” (p.12)

What is different about the Danish culture is that they don’t accept that anxiety, worry, or stress are just a part of everyday life. They engage in purposeful activities to habitually eliminate it. Implementing hygge creates experiences that are felt and enjoyed, filling a present need for emotional and mental well-being.

Having a hygge lifestyle is “indulging in something that truly allows you to settle down, quit rushing around your day stressed and anxious, and enjoy what life offers you in a more comfortable moments.” (p.30) Examples of hygge could be sharing a glass of wine with a friend after work, having tea, and snuggling in a cozy throw while reading a good book, or having friends over for a night of pasta and board games.
 
Hygge can mean different things to different people and be tailored to suit personal preferences. (p.29) It can describe a scenario, emotion, and a way of life that centers around the idea of “being cozy.” (p.10) Another description from the author is that hygge to a Westerner is similar to practicing and having “Zen” moments.

One rule that is synonymous with hygge is “unplugging.” Whether you prefer to relax alone and watch a movie, or going to the lake with your family, hygge is about experiences and cultivating memories. The goal is to create “an intentional, intimate surrounding that induces specific chemical reactions within the brain that promote stress relief, contentment, and relaxation.” (p.15)

There is so much about a hygge lifestyle that is fascinating for me. Many benefits of hygge the author describes are ones I plan to implement in my own life. For instance: I need to grant myself the amount of sleep that my body needs. I can create a different, relaxing bedtime routine, going to sleep a little earlier than usual. The peace I will get when waking up after nine hours versus seven will set the tone for a less stressful day.

Telford does a good job explaining the fundamentals of hygge, benefits, and the incorporation of a hygge lifestyle as a Westerner. The author covers other topics: how hygge can differ with the seasons, as a new perspective, as a creative outlet, and how you can incorporate hygge in all areas of life.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, I recommend reading this title. It’s not long, easily a weekend read, but it covers a great deal of helpful information for a healthier, hygge lifestyle.

Visit the blog, Jeanine’s Gingerbread Cottage, and read more about hygge. 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this book review. I too had heard about the Danish being the happiest people. It is my belief that self-acceptance and contentment with your life while working to make it better, contributes to one's state of mind.

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  2. Thank you for explaining what this was to me leading my family to a new Homeschool Lesson and Vocabulary word for our Spelling Test.

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  3. Thanks so much for mentioning me!! And I'm SO glad I inspired you to look into it. I have found the hygge lifestyle endlessly rewarding, and I am sure you will, too.

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