Image courtesy of yessyogastudio.com
Being a lover of language, I am never happier than when engrossed in a good book. I follow nerdish pages on social media that bemoan the incorrect use of their/there and too/to/two. I love a homophone and I love it when my equally bookish friends construct a sentence that is a SPaG thing of beauty. In essence, I love words. There are worse things to do in life and I, like most self-aware humans, can list my own faults until the proverbial cows come home, but adoring books and the written word ain’t one of them.
Subsequently, I am delighted to announce, that I have discovered a new word! (For the avoidance of disappointment, I should point out that I mean new to me. Sadly I am not about to prove incendiary to the linguistic world and all its wordporn fetishists.) I have discovered, drum roll… hygge – and, even better, it is a new word with a meaning that sums up much of what I attempt on a daily basis.
Hygge, pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, is a Danish concept, roughly translating as ‘cosiness’, but it more than this. In countries such as Denmark, known to be one of the world’s happiest countries, hygge is a way of life. It is about inner fulfillment, nurture, and general snuggliness.
According to the BBC news website, a college in central London is teaching its students how to achieve hygge as part of their Danish language course. Denmark has winters that stretch into infinity, and the concept of bringing light into our homes in the darkest of months (Christmas, anyone?) is nothing new. But to have a specific world-view that relates solely around ways in which to comfort your soul – how fantastic is that?
Cosiness and nurture are close to my heart, and much of my home centres around it. Nearly every piece of furntiture, every knick-knack, has a memory and meaning attached to it. I like low-lighting in the evening, a roaring fire in winter, and candle-light wherever possible.
My husband and our friends, Jodi and her lovely husband Dave, have even been known to have dinner parties (alright, ‘takeaways’), in our pyjamas, and having friends like these – friends with whom you laugh so hard that your daughter tells you off the next morning for having kept her awake, is also part of hygge.
I have written before about the importance of the ‘little things’ in life. Three years ago, my husband was seriously ill and spent several weeks in QA. His release from hospital, his recovery, and our time spent together afterwards, only served to enhance my belief that we need to treasure, recognise, and learn how to create things that make us happy.
Little things, like sipping a hot drink from a favourite mug in a moment of silence, can provide joy. The sensation of the cold sea at the very tip of a hot summer shoreline tickling your toes, or an aching blue sky that stretches to tomorrow on a spring morning, can be enough to change your mood for the day, to make you feel complete, to make you feel alive. A glass of good wine, or a few pages of a favourite book, can soothe and regenerate.
We all need a little hygge in our lives. Actively searching for ways in which to soothe your soul, make you happy, and to fill that gap that sometimes cracks inside us, is what life should be about.
Google ‘hygge’ today. I’d love to hear from anyone who is inspired by what they find, and the ways in which you incorporate it in your life.
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 5th January 2016.
Image courtesy of meghanbphd.tumblr.com