Working to live, living to work? Working hard or hardly working?
There is a new trend in town and this is one I can really get on board with. Over recent years, the idea of working till the point of exhaustion, doing overtime and allowing no time for one’s personal life has drifted out of fashion. The world has realised that living to work is actually not that fun. Now that’s not to say we shouldn’t work hard, it’s just that we shouldn’t work overly hard all the time.
In the last couple of years, a new craze has been creeping in. People enjoying the simple pleasures, transforming their homes into a small solace and dedicating time to spend outdoors. Gone are the days where we feel pressured to work through weekends, miss family events and slave away at the office. Oh no. Now it is cool to actually relax. To enjoy the slow life.
Hashtags like #aquietstyle, #momentsofmine and #the_gentle_manifesto are sweeping our Instagram feeds. Slow living is the art of slowing down from our chaotic lives and reconnecting with life’s simple beauty. It is about appreciating the importance of balance. Balance between work and relaxation, city living and the natural world, Westernised development and basic living. We are taking more time to explore what makes us, at our most basic human selves, feel truly happy.
And the man who kick started it all? Mr Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge. This little book has gone viral, bursting into the limelight and opening our eyes as to why Danish people are among the happiest in the world all thanks to hygge. But what is hygge?
Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) roughly translates to mean the feeling that comes from taking pleasure in making ordinary, everyday moments more meaningful. It is about appreciating the little things in life and taking a moment to really enjoy it. This could be anything, from making your house more cosy, to cooking a beautiful meal, to reading by candle light – according to the European Candle Association, Danes burn more candles per person than anywhere else in Europe (candles are key for the hygge life!).
Beautiful photograph from @featherandwild
One of my favourite aspects of hygge is creating a ‘cosy’ home and the Danes do cosy very well. Their homes are filled with natural materials such as wood, leather and fur, illuminated by dim pools of light. Lighting is key – with a few strategically placed lamps and half of Ikea’s candle selection you are half way there. And Instagrammers across the world are going wild for this new home theme, transforming their living spaces in the hope to be more hygge (and get some great candid, natural shots whilst they do it – would it be worth it otherwise?). Have a look at last weeks Wildlifestyle Weekend Inspiration for the most beautiful instagram hygge homes!
Check out @ranli_ on instagram!
Hygge living transports us back into a simplistic way of life. Perhaps that is why the craze has gone viral. With hygge, we can escape the buzzing sounds and electric lights of technology and just take a minute to sit down together. Perhaps we are all silently desperate to break away from our own intense, fast-paced, Western society. To take a break from an impatient way of life where, if a video hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds it loses our attention, where we swipe left or right for love and where everything is filtered beyond recognition. Hygge brings us back into the now, wrapping us up in a moment of calm.
Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institution in Copenhagen (yes, that is a real job), claims that “studies show a clear link between gratitude and wellbeing. But another important thing to remember when it comes to understanding hygge is that it’s about experiences rather than ‘stuff’.” Clearly Janet Jackson was right, the best things in life are free. Danes are happier that most people and less materialistic than most nations. It seems as though the key to happiness is to avoid consumerism, fast fashion and focusing on what you haven’t got, or what latest technology you simply need to get, and just focus on what you do have. Take pleasure in making a cup of hot chocolate and sitting down to read. Enjoy time with your family.
So tonight, instead of worrying about your workload and staying late to get just one more thing done, go home. Wrap yourself up in your favourite blanket and take a minute for yourself. To destress, wind down and indulge in a little hygge.