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November Action of the Month: Improve Your Quality of Life—Learn to Love Hygge

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What’s hygge?

Hygge (1)  is a Danish word that describes a moment when you feel comfy, cosy and connected. Imagine sitting around a candlelit table with friends and woolly socks on—that’s hygge.

As we head into the darker months, don’t let the short days give you the blues. Just get into hygge—the state of mind that values quality of life rather than consumption.

A good test would be to join in on Buy Nothing Day on November 24!

Note: In Denmark, everyone practises hygge, including children, who are encouraged to enjoy the simple pleasures of life from a young age. The result is empathetic and very relaxed adults. It’s probably thanks to hygge that Danes are one of the happiest people in the world :)

HOW TO GET HYGGE—AND BE GREEN AT THE SAME TIME

Taking the time to prepare and, most importantly, enjoy your favourite hot drink is the epitome of hygge. It could be coffee or tea, or if you’re feeling adventurous, hot chocolate or cider infused with cinnamon and orange. Voilà! A gentle introduction to this Danish mindset. And while you sip your fair-trade drink, why not visit the wonderful new choisirequitable.org [Choose fair trade] website?

For a real hygge moment, indulge in some freshly baked cookies, too, and enjoy the aroma that fills your home. Slow-cooked meals and soups go hand in hand with cocooning like this. It’s comfort in a mug—and even better when made with your family farmer’s local organic vegetables.

Snuggle up by candlelight for a cosy winter

To make yourself a real cocoon, put on some woolly socks or slippers and your comfiest clothes. (Yes, onesies are allowed!) Make a nest with all your blankets and pillows, and then snuggle up until the first buds appear! Seriously, who doesn’t love snuggling up in a pile of blankets and pillows? Nestling at home like this, away from everything, is free and so comforting!

Now light a few candles to create a warm atmosphere. Did you know that the Danes are the biggest consumers of candles in the world? They burn them day and night, even in schools. We recommend having a candlelit brunch. They’re lovely—you’ll see. (Warm, dim lighting will create a similar effect, but avoid neon and cold lighting.)

Hygge activities

There are plenty of activities that are free, stimulating and good for the soul.

  • Going to the library. It’s free and we sometimes tend to forget about it. We recommend Ana Roy’s Les Petites Choses, a collection of original drawings of all the simple things in life that make us smile, like going for a bike ride in spring, seeing a wiener dog on wheels and dancing your socks off. Perfect for hygge time!

  • Playing board games. You can borrow them or pick them up in flea markets, often for next to nothing. And some can be played with just paper and pencils! Ever heard of Le jeu de la boulette? It’s a hilarious guessing/miming game. We also recommend Le Responsable, a game similar to Monopoly, but with a focus on responsible investment, created by La Caisse d’économie solidaire Desjardins in collaboration with video game creator Affordance Studio and Rhizome Strategies. Some Équiterre team members got to give it a go and said it was great fun and refreshing! You have to maximize returns for investors AND ensure a positive impact for society. It’s certainly a bigger challenge than Monopoly. Jeux Wasa has also created Quartier durable, which involves building a neighbourhood that supports sustainable living.

  • Watching film classics or old TV series. What better way to spend a grey Sunday afternoon than a few hours of nostalgia? Friends, Seinfeld, Road to Avonlea, to name a few! But be sure to try out some recipes for delicious homemade popcorn rather than buying commercial products.
  • Making photo albums. Yes, digital photos are convenient. But even though we have tons of photos on various devices, we print a lot less than before. Why not choose the best ones of the year and make an album or mount them in a second-hand frame from Renaissance, for example? You could also create a photo wall display.

  • Enjoying nature. Hygge may be about snuggling up, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. You could make a fire in your yard—if it’s allowed, of course—or wrap up warmly and take a stroll in a peaceful park with some friends.
  • Making gifts (and avoiding holiday season madness). To save yourself from stressful shopping trips on December 23, think ahead about presents you’d like to give your friends and family. Even better—think up activities you can do with them and invite them with homemade gift certificates. Presents like this are even better when they’re eco-friendly as well.
  • Listening to music, reading—or taking a nap! Cocooning at its best. (Go back up to the comfortable #polar section.)
  • Taking a bubble bath. There’s no need to go to an expensive spa when you can create one at home. Bubbles, salts, oil, wine, music—whatever makes you happy!
  • Reconnecting with old hobbies. Learn a song, play an instrument, get crafting, knit, draw or make a popsicle-stick castle. Let your imagination flow!

Connect to disconnect

Hygge is about connecting with yourself and others. You could invite friends, family or neighbours round for a meal, hot drink or just to relax. This doesn’t mean slaving away in the kitchen and serving cocktails followed by an eight-course meal. Just create an atmosphere for a memorable evening. A few simple dishes and drinks are all you need. Add candles and blankets and you’re all set. What’s important is being together.

Rather than scrolling away on your phone and texting, why not call a friend for a nice chat? A good laugh beats an LOL any day. Or write a letter to a loved one. Finding it in their mailbox instead of a bill will brighten up their day.

Remember, hygge isn’t about accomplishing something, but adopting a way of life. Rushing from one activity to the next is not hygge. Relax and share good times with loved ones in a comfy, cosy atmosphere. And enjoy the moment :)

 FURTHER READINGS

(1) There’s no translation for hygge although some call it cosiness or togetherness. To understand it, you really have to try it!