Hygge = Happy

July 14, 2016

Hygge = Happy 

I have heard that Danish people are some of the happiest people on this earth! They are second to the people of Bhutan, but then this is another story. It seems the Danes have a better balance on the work/life rhythm than the rest of us. What is it that they have that we don’t? Well, it is an intrinsic value called ‘hygge’. Apparently its part of their DNA!

It is pronounced something like – hue-gah - . There must be some Danish guttural sound included but the essence of hygge is ‘life is good’!  The hygge way of life is a habit born out of their long dark winters but evolves and extends into summer to take in the light and ability to be outdoors.



A general rule for office hours is between 7-4pm, or 5pm the latest. Seemingly, these work hours fit in with their limited hours of sunlight/daylight from autumn through winter, which they have taken on board as an overall guide.  In 2012, ‘Shops closing hour’ was eased to extend shopping hours over the weekend, but until then the shops shut at noon on Saturdays!

Who remembers this from the bygone era of Australia?


At home, the hygge factor completes the balance.

It’s time to relax for a cosy, snug get together with family or friends. Slow cooked food, mulled wine, open fires, gentle music and candles by the dozen. According to the European Candle Association, Danes use the most candles per head than any other nation in Europe. These small get togethers are where people enjoy each other’s company and talk about the next hygge happening, be it during the week or weekend, for dinner or to help paint someone’s lounge or kitchen, with a meal to finish!

So what is to ‘hygge’?

 “To hygge is to invite intimacy and connection. It’s a feeling of engagement and relatedness, of belonging to the moment and to each other. Hygge is a sense of abundance and contentment. Hygge is about being not having.” Louisa Thomsen Brits - ‘the book of hygge – the Danish art of living well’

Hygge is about intimacy and small-scale encounters. It is about creating a space or an occasion to be enjoyed by you or with others.

Being gracious is hygge too.

Hygge happens when you are gracious to yourself, when being creative and doing what you enjoy.  It is also about being grateful.  Being grateful is an inbuilt character for the Danes!  The hygge moments in life along with gratitude are the major factors which regularly vote Denmark as one of the happiest nations in the world. Another important factor about hygge is that it is about the experience rather than ‘stuff’

“It turns out Luther Vandross was right: the best things in life really are free – or at least needn’t set you back more than the price of a few Ikea tea lights.”

 “Danes have been proven to be less materialistic than other cultures – and we appreciate low-cost activities and the simple things in life, like having a coffee (fairtrade) and lighting some candles to create a cosy atmosphere,” says Meik Wiking, CEO The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.

Denmark and Fairtrade

Along with this I discover, Copenhagen has been a Fairtrade city since 2009.

·         “Copenhagen is a fairtrade city; where everything is organic, fair trade and/or sustainable” visitdenmark.com

·          “Fair trade products make you richer in experience and provide understanding and insight into cultures of different nations in Africa, Asia and South America” fairtradedenmark

I feel so encouraged by this nation called Denmark.  Their social conscience, work and life ethic not only includes the ‘happy factor’ (meaning- contentment and well-being), but also the happiness of those who produce what they enjoy.

I love my book ‘the book of hygge – the Danish art of living well’ by Louisa Thomsen Brits. It explains this sense of hygge so much better,  clearer and generally  speaking, makes me feel good

To close, here are words at the end of her book - ‘We pass on the spirit of hygge through the quality of our presence. Ideas and values travel. Through hygge each one of us can know a sense of deeper contentment that will radiate out from us into a global web of belonging togetherness’

Have a wonderful Hygge day!




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