Hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness.
I am obsessed with this book. Everything I love in life that makes me feel safe and homey and bubbly-happy is defined in The Little Book of Hygge. The concept of hygge is hard to state in one sentence, but Wiking describes this overarching term as giving us the language, objective, and methods for achieving and maintaining everyday happiness. It is making the most of every day in the most simple and humble ways. It is being present in the current moment and having control over our situation. Hygge uses all five senses to create this sense of being, with an additional “6th sense” of feeling safe and secure in the presence of light “danger” (e.g. cozying up inside with a warm cup of coffee and a crackling fire while a thunderstorm rages outside).
It’s all about savoring the moment and enjoying simple pleasures.
This book approaches the explanation of hygge with science, stats, and the underlying philosophy and definitions, but continues on into practical advice (and additional supporting background information) for the application and achievement of hygge in the reader’s life. Wiking includes such things as the importance of lighting (most specifically candles) and its historical importance in Denmark; cooking recipes that inspire hygge, clothing and furniture design choices, and so much more.
Perhaps most useful, Wiking provides guidance and tools to achieve a state of hygge (including the items you should include in an Emergency Hygge Kit!). Although many people will have experienced hygge before and will likely identify with his explanation of the term, they will most often have found this feeling only at random. His analysis of hygge offers a means of intentionally invoking this sense. I can also now justify my strong desire for year-round christmas tree lighting with this term’s strong emphasis on lighting usage.
I listened to this as an audiobook, which I very much suggest as his enthusiasm for the topic is catchy and inspiring. It was also great to hear someone actually say the word “hygge”, although I still cannot pronounce it for the life of me. Bear in mind though that the hygge-inspired recipe chapter in audiobook format is not the easiest to understand; it’s very strange to hear someone read you a recipe step-by-step. (But I loved this book so much and I wanted to try the recipes, so I actually bought the physical book as well.)
This book mixes humor and the quirkiness of Denmark with sound advice on achieving everyday happiness. Wiking often deadpans any humor, so if you’re not paying full attention, you’ll miss the small jokes and funny bits. One of my favorites was his commentary on Denmark’s style:
In Denmark, everyone wears black…in the summertime you’re allowed to go for a wider range of colors. Even something flamboyant, like gray.
Hygge is a life philosophy for achieving happiness that I feel many, many people would benefit from learning. It’s nearly impossible to summarize this book so I will instead say that if you ever wanted an explanation of why you feel particularly content and happy at seemingly random times and guidance on how to intentionally achieve this state, read this book. I can already tell this will be one of my frequent rereads.