The Positive Pensive

An anxious pessimist tries to find the positive

Hygge: taking tips from the happy Danes

The Danes regularly top the tables when it comes to happiness ratings by country. That’s quite a feat given the nonsense weather and lack of sunshine hours they put up with – so it makes sense that everyone wants to know their secret.

Of course, they did also invent the great Danish pastry. That must skyrocket a few people’s ratings.

Essentially, ‘hygge’ is all about doing things that bring about that ‘ahh’ moment of peaceful contentment. It’s about time with friends or creating a solo moment of cosiness.

And it seems that it’s rather unique to the Danes – I think it speaks volumes that there’s no English translation.

Easy ways to get your dose of hygge

It’s not hard to see how hygge can be easily linked to wellbeing – and many of the core elements that contribute to it are easily incorporated into our daily lives:

Up your time with friends and family

It doesn’t have to be fancy, or organised down to a tee. It’s low-key. Think more popping in for a cup of tea and a sit-down than a pristine dinner party.

The last time I saw my friends from home, we played board games wrapped in blankets (our twenties are wild) and it was the hardest I’ve laughed in ages. And oh life do I love Scrabble.

Adjust your work-life balance

I think many of us could admit to spending too much time at work – or even just thinking about it. I’ve lost sleep stressing out and worrying about it all, which is a literal waste of energy when there are so many other things you can devote yourself to. It’s a cliché, but life really is too short for that.

Effort over convenience

Accomplishment is intrinsically linked to happiness – but it doesn’t have to be climbing Everest (thank heck). It can be anything from a handwritten note over a text, or treating your friends to a simple, home-cooked meal. It’s not about striving for perfection, it’s about the gesture itself.

Savour the moment

I’m not sure I know a single person who doesn’t enjoy being warm in bed, with no plans or expectations, while it’s raining, grey and moody outside. Or chilling out in comfy clothes. Hot soup on a cold day. A mug of something warming.

It’s all too easy to let these little moments slip us by – and when we’re feeling down or anxious, these can be just the things we need. Need some ideas? Check my post about savouring the little things.

Light candles

I had to mention candles. It would be a crime against hygge to not at least give them a teensy little reference. They’re not for everyone, and that’s fine. But if you’ve never really given them a go (why not?!) just buy a candle or two and enjoy the soft, ambient glow.


See? For those of us who are natural pessimists or generally struggling to get on the motivation bandwagon, hygge is fairly undemanding. It’s a lot to do with just being mindful and appreciative.

Because, I don’t know about you, but creating a haven where I’m surrounded by people who make me feel happy and at rest is pretty much the holy grail. And I’m sure we could all do with a bit more of that.

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