It’s the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures, but how can we embrace Hygge in hectic London? Bronte Aurell, author of ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge, is here to help…

Words Hannah Hopkins
Contributor Bronte Aurell

What is it? That feeling where you appreciate the nice, calm, cosy time you are having with close friends/family, usually involving food of some kind, with no time limit.

What it is not: Some higher state of mindfulness. Please don’t burden the hygge concept with changing your life. It will not. What it will do, however, is will gently remind you that slowing down, appreciating moments with good friends and family, relaxing and putting your smartphone to one side is where comfort and happiness can be found, always. And quite easily. Just look for it.

British people are really, really good at hygge as it is. There is nothing we can teach British people about how to do it – this is simply about remembering that feeling. That we have a word for it is very helpful – it makes it easier to explain and for people to appreciate it when they feel it.

Where is it from: The word is Danish/Norwegian, but it is understood and done all over Scandinavia.

Pronunciation: Who-guh (forget the others, this is the one).

How to bring it into your life in five easy steps…

Let go of time

Hygge is not dependent on time. You can’t force it, you can’t create a set time for it. Just let go of whatever it is you have planned later. If it happens, it happens. There is no time limit in hygge.

Example: Remember that evening with friends where you looked at the clock and it was two in the morning and you realised you had forgotten all about the time? That was hygge.

Let go of the phone

Being connected to the rest of the world is not necessary, because the only people you need to connect with are the ones in your company, right here, right now. Switch it off.

Eat nice stuff

The feeling of eating something yummy increases a comfort factor. It increases our happiness feelings. Hygge can absolutely happen without it – but to maximise the feelings, add a bowl of crisps or sweets to the table – or bake a nice cake. Cinnamon buns and hot chocolate works especially well here!

Be together

Share the space you are in – sit around the dinner table and keep talking, cosy up on the sofa with your mugs of hot chocolate and chat. Watch a movie together, one that makes you feel happy. Talk over it, because it’s not about the movie, really. Bake cupcakes with your kids and have an icing fight in the kitchen. Whatever you do, be in a place where you are together and feel comfortable. Be a memory creator.

Don’t try to make it happen

No amount of physical stuff can force the feeling of hygge. It’s just stuff. Hygge happens in places where there is calm, love, time and space. It doesn’t care if you live in a messy bedsit in Dalston – or if your house is minimalist designer. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor. Hygge is a feeling of appreciating your lot, in that time, in that space. Hygge is connecting with yourself and people around you. If you need candles to do that, then that’s fine. If all you need is a cup of tea and a hug and a good old chat, that is absolutely perfect, too: It’s inside you.

ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge by Brontë Aurell, published by Ryland Peters & Small.

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