Higgledy-piggledy? Higgy? Hickey?
Hygge is actually pronounced “hoo-guh”, and it’s a Danish concept. The closest description in English would probably be somewhere along the lines of cozy/cuddly/rustic. Imagine being curled up by the fire in some fuzzy socks with a cup of hot chocolate while there’s a thunderstorm outside. That’s pretty much an encapsulation of Hygge.
Dim lighting, comfort food, comfy clothes and soft fabrics, and snuggling up? Do all Danes have EDS? LOL, bad jokes aside, this sounds like my perfect evening…or perfect anytime, actually. I’m obsessed with candles, super soft textures, warm lighting, fire (not like, in an arson way, as in; I wish I could have my own fireplace O_O) and smooth music…not to mention committing carbocide every now and then :/. It would be my dream to live in a treehouse in the woods and to cook a hearty, homemade Christmas feast for all my closest friends and family. Imagine doing that after playing in the snow all day – oh my!
It really might be the perfect lifestyle for those with chronic pain/illness. Everyone talks about minimalism and de-stressing and decluttering and all that, but really, it’s been there all along. Get back to basics and live like your grandparents, or even great-grandparents. Ditch the laptop/phone for a book (ok that’s probably my most difficult obstacle), invite your friends around to help cook or bring their own addition for dinner, turn the TV off and have a games night. Low-energy (I was going to clarify in terms of spoons, but I guess it is low energy because you’re not using so much electricity too?), low-cost, social quota and I can wear my uniform of a hoodie & leggings with my socks in the shape of ice creams while I eat, drink and be merry? If that’s being an old man, then call me Grandpa, because I am so here for it.
You might think it sounds boring or old fashioned, but Denmark is home to some of the happiest people in the world. Treating themselves to a pastry, cycling most places, leaving work on time and achieving that work/life balance, while spending time with family really seems like the recipe to happiness. Not to mention getting away from blue light from screens, which can really mess up your circadian rhythm and continue that low-grade stress cycle, which is a real killer.
It’s a weird catch-22: I feel like I don’t have enough energy to do stuff, but I still want to be productive or at least do something, so I watch something or read on my laptop or phone. But I might as well just sleep if I am that tired, because I’m still connected and on call to the rest of the world. There’s just no escape or switching off. It’s like the opposite of meditation…and I should know, because I am extremely guilty of that insomniac life. It’s all about quality, and to be honest, if I’m awake, but I’m just procrastinating and wasting my time, is that really worth doing over having a quick nap and then being able to get back up and at it? ‘Stay awake for the sake of being awake’ should not be a mantra. It’s all about quality. Quality time with loved ones, quality food that you enjoy eating – even if it’s not strictly ‘healthy’, energy spent on quality entertainment, as opposed to not really doing anything while surfing the net or watching reality TV. Nowadays people can’t even have a holiday because you can get roaming on your phone overseas, and you can keep up on Facebook with every minuscule nuance of your kind-of-friends-but-we-haven’t-seen-each-other-in-two-years life, instead of going away, having an adventure, and having something to really talk about when you get back, instead of “Oh, did you hear about…” “Oh, yeah, I saw it on Facebook” *crickets* (guilty, guilty, guilty).
But learning about Hygge feels like someone is saying: “Hey, it’s ok to unplug and get away from it all. It’s ok to relax, it’s ok not to be available at all times, and it’s ok to treat yourself!” And I think that’s an important reminder, especially for people with chronic illness, who feel guilty about what they can and can’t do, or push themselves because they don’t feel like they’re doing enough. Treat yourself like a friend, and have a hyggelig (hygge-ly) time 🙂
For more information, I recommend reading or listening to The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (he should know: he works for the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen!)