Recently I spoke to a friend from Slovakia and I tried to explain to her what “Hygge” means. Bookstores in London are full of Hygge books, from pocket-sized guides to coffee table picture books. The term has become a synonym for living well and an easy, carefree life. That kind of life where there’s no city traffic, no deadlines and detox diets (because there’s nothing to take a detox from). It’s the kind of life where you have movie nights, eat popcorn and have dinner parties, jogs in the nature when it’s cold and then sit by a fireplace with a cup of tea and home-baked cake.
Despite this description is simplified to a large degree, my friend got my point. Then she sat in silence for a minute and asked, “And what’s so special about it?” I had to laugh for a moment. I really got the difference between two different cities and cultures. One where “there’s so much of everything that you need to escape it”. Second where “there’s never too much and you need to go elsewhere to find it”. I assume you know which one goes matches London.
That also explains why the city needs Hygge so desperately. When you work all day, commute 2 hours and your evenings consist of binging on Netflix, after a while you start to ask yourself if that’s all there is in life. I have friends who live like this and I feel their pain. Then there is the constant problem with dating and friendship and family relationships. Although I can’t say anything for dating for myself, I know my friends persistently complain about dates that end like bad movie jokes or end with ghosting.
My usual problem comes to friendship. Every time I meet someone who I love to hang out with, they move to a different country. Sometimes it almost seems like there’s no “real” person in an 8-million city. I’m lucky to have found one best friend and on top of that I have a fiancé who supports me with anything that comes around.
You may start to think where Hygge comes in place here, but it’s more than obvious. With no meaningful relationships, it’s hard to do those little things that give us satisfaction and happiness. Although an occasional moment of solitude is great, you don’t want it turn into a habit. Making coffee alone and baking cakes for yourself is no fun either. No wonder coffee shops in London are full of cakes and all possible coffee drinks. Life in a small town where visiting your friend takes just 15 minutes door to door and everyone knows each other makes Hygge an integrated part of life where you no longer think about it whether it even exists.
I’m not trying to make living in a big city wrong, though. It’s what it is and if didn’t have some advantages, there would be no cities at all. But then, you’re the one who’s making those advantages, right? So if you want to bring that Hygge lifestyle to your city, go for it. Here are my 5 tips how to make it work for you if you.
1. Make Friends – Online And Offline
One of the crucial things of city life is having friends. It’s my experience that with no friends there’s nothing that keeps you there. Of course, friends move and change. But without them, there’s no joy. Since I moved to London, I found it helpful to make friends on (face-to-face) courses or engage with people online and meet them in person. There’s no perfect way – it’s just you making the connection.
2. Schedule Time For Dinner Parties
Andrej and I love spending time with his work colleagues and our friends. We usually schedule a one dinner party per month, or we go for a picnic. In summer, it could be a BBQ. Nothing like some great conversations and bonding time.
3. Connect With Nature
One of our favourite places in London is the Greenwich park. It’s big, it has beautiful trees, and offers some hilly terrain so you don’t get bored after 10 minutes of walking. There are so many places in cities that give you space to connect with nature. Seek them out and visit them from time to time. Nature makes us centred and balanced.
4. Have Some #MeTime
If you asked me what is one of things that are most important to me, it’s having some me time. Just the time to read a book, paint my nails and go to the city brings me so much joy. (Working from home all the time, busy streets and underground are not some common to me, so I enjoy it.) I find it important to reconnect to my values, it gives me better perspective on continuing to pursue my dreams.
5. Start A (Creative/Offline) Project
I hear this from people working in retail and corporate world all the time: “I wish I had something meaningful to work on. But I don’t know what to do.” Starting a project and working on your own idea doesn’t have to be complex. It’s not about becoming successful or an entrepreneur. It can be something as simple as scrapbooking, making edible gifts or taking pictures. The key is to stick to it and stop making excuses why you don’t have time for it.
How do you bring Hygge to your life?