Book of the week: The little book of Hygge

2016 has been a very tough year, with a series of destabilising political events like Brexit and Donald Trump election, natural disasters and unexpected celebrity deaths (including David Bowie). From the Nordic (Denmark to be precise) comes an old lifestyle concept that can help us survive a new year and life more generally. You might not have heard about hygge yet, but this trend has taken the UK by storm.

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Hygge is pronounced as hyue-gar and means an approach to living that embraces positivity and enjoyment of everyday life which has been used by the Danes since the 1800s and is now widely used across the Nordic countries.

Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Research Institute has written a lovely book called The Little Book of Hygge, The Danish Way to Live Well which explains how to live a life in the hygge style with a complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming. He is committed to finding out what makes people happy and has concluded that hygge is the magic ingredient that makes Danes the happiest nation in the world. He has said: ‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’

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Image by Chris Mcandrew

It’s an ideal birthday present for anybody really or even a stocking filler. It’s not just me saying it. The book has outsold Damon Hill, Peter Andre and Davina McCall this autumn. It’s sold triple the number of copies of Amy Schumer’s explosive memoir and has sold 1 copy every 2 minutes and 30 copies every hour since publication.  The publisher revealed to have sold 38,000 hardbacks in two months, shifting 1.5 times as many copies as the result of the books on this topic put together.

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Condensing years of research, hundreds of interviews and thousands of studies and experiments from The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen – including new studies and experiments on smiling and the effect of social media and happiness – Meik Wiking’s second book is a comprehensive and practical guide to what really makes people happy and how to improve their quality of life.

Topics covered in the book include:
The Happiest 3 Percent
How do you measure Happiness?
Genetics, Policies and Behavior – and the wisdom to know the difference
Converting wealth into well-being. How much is enough?
The Facebook Event
Training the Mind
The Happiness of Pursuit. Happiness as a By-Product
Flow – the Power of Positive Emotions
What’s Purpose got to do with it?
Investing in Quality of Life

As you can imagine, although hygge is a volatile concept, marketers are already making the most of it to entice consumers especially in the lead up to Christmas. The trend has influenced food trends, beauty products, fashion and even alcohol consumption in the UK. 

What I understand from reading this book is that you know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.

In this beautiful, inspiring book Meik helps us be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

May hygge be with us all in 2017!

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