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The Institute of Happiness

Once upon a time in Denmark appeared an organization which had as main task the study of happiness - The Happiness Research Institute from Copenhagen. Can you imagine ? An organization which studies human happiness. I was really thinking it is a bit of a utopic subject until I came across Meik Wiking's book 'Hygge', the Danish recipe for happiness.Then I changed my mind.

Meik describes the way people in Denmark behave in everyday life towards family, friends, their own homes - gestures and insights about what makes them feel cozy and happy.

But what is so special about 'hygge' ?

The word itself is translated to English as 'coziness' though the Danish say that it loses part of its meaning in this translation. 'Hygge' is about the warmth and intimacy of a dinner at candle light with close friends, or a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace in a cold and rainy evening, sharing the blanket with that special someone and listening to the sounds of the wood burning slowly. Hygge is also making a damn good homemade cake and sharing it with the friends, while in all the house you smell only cinnamon and baking.

The Dutch word that is associated with is 'gezelligheid' , though here the Danish have the feeling that gezelligheid might not be a complete pair to hygge, as gezelligheid is more social related. Yes, they both have the coziness as a common element, but hygge is a bit more.

Actually the Danes developed a whole vocabulary around the 'hygge' - you can have a hyggesnak so a relaxed conversation, in the hyggekrog which is that spot in the living room or the kitchen where you feel the most cozy, on a Sondagshygge- a Sunday that is usually dedicated to books, tea, cozy clothes and maybe a walk in the nature. But you can also feel hygge by yourself, drinking a cup of tea and listening to your favorite music.And the list goes on.

Hygge is not an expensive thing, or better to say the way to be hygge is as simple and affordable as a picnic on the beach. The idea is that we can be happy by realizing that what we need is in our reach, the simple things, the warmth of having the friends and the family close by, the connection with them, the laughter , the harmony found in nature without phones , ipads or other electronics, the joy we find in eating a strawberry pie freshly baked.

It is about being more humble and more connected to nature and the people around us.

I find it very inspiring and it is something we can all apply in our everyday life.

How many times in a day do you check your phone messages or your social media ? How many times we postpone taking a trip to see some friends that live to a certain distance and we prefer whatsapping instead. We lose connection just by altering the way in which we communicate.

What do the Danish people associate to hygge, as example : hot drinks, candles, fireplaces, Christmas, board games, music, holiday, cakes, cooking, books, sunday, tv , aniversaries, pets, stormy weather, parties, plants, sport, sea, mountain trips. The joy of simple things.

We live in a fast moving world - the secret one might say is to learn to slow it down and enjoy the ride.

I wish you lots of hygge !



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