What The Heck Is

What the heck is… Hygge?

By Kitty Knowles 15 September 2016
The Killing's Sofie Grabol sports a rather Hygge jumper.
Summary

Explaining the buzzwords of the moment: What is Hygge and what does it mean for our future?

Our weekly series What the heck is… exists to shed light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.

From vertical farming to helicopter money we’re on a mission to explain the difficult to explain.


You might have got into Chinese ‘Feng Shui’, or ‘zen’, and now modern ‘mindfulness’ dominates conversation – we love to adopt buzzwords in our ongoing battle to find calm.

Now another ‘new’ old tradition is having a moment, as the cool kids can’t stop talking about ‘Hygge’ (pronounced “Hue-gah”).

To those of you in search of complete and utter happiness, you’d better brush up fast…

What exactly is Hygge?

Hygge is a Danish concept, unsurprising given that Denmark has topped the World Happiness Report three times since it was first published in 2012 (it came third in 2015).

To define the idea, we thought it’d be best to ask Meik Wiking is CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen for a little guidance.

“Hygge is about an atmosphere, rather than about things,” he told The Memo. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home.”

Indeed, the most literal translation for the word into English is ‘snug’ or ‘cosy’.

“The word originate from the word hug – and that is exactly what it should feel like.”

How can we get Hygge?

Lot’s of ways. It could be as simple as having dinner in with good friends, or spending time with your partner in front of an open fire a cold rainy night. Anything that gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

“Most would agree that it is about togetherness, warmth, presence, comfort and savouring the simple pleasures,” explains Wiking.

There are also a tonne of books that have jumped on the ‘Scand-wagon’ to help you get to grips with Hygge, including Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge, Signe Johansen’s How to Hygge and Jonny Jackson & Elias Larsen’s The Art of Hygge all out this month.

Don’t be shocked if your given a Hygge book this Christmas…

Why do you need Hygge now?

While Hygge is an age-old Danish tradition, it does share overlaps with modern trends like mindfulness (striving to be present in the moment, savouring pleasures etc), and it’s only going to be more needed in our busy modern lives.

As more and more people explore new ways to increase quality of life, hygge really could be one of them.

“A lot of people are struggling with converting wealth into well-being,” Wiking observes.

But Hygge can help you discover a whole new type of value. After all who doesn’t want a happier life with more cosiness, comfort and joy?

Better get your Hygge on.

Read more: What the heck is… helicopter money?

Read more: What the heck is… edtech?

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