How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen

 

Spending more time in nature. Cuddling up on the couch with a good mystery. Taking breaks for cake and coffee. Lighting candles.Between fall weather finally approaching and the busy school year settling in, I’m trying to remind myself to make time for rest and comfort. How to Hygge, by Signe Johansen explains the Danish and Norwegian word hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) doesn’t have an exact translation in English, but it suggests coziness and slowing down to enjoy life. Johansen applies the lessons she learned growing up in Norway to her busy life in London, as well as how people from other cultures can adapt the philosophy of hygge to their lives.

The book doesn’t offer all of the answers to life’s problems, but a lot of little ways to be happier. The author offers her own stories balancing being a high achiever with hygge, such as her father making her take a break from studying for important high school exams to gather wild lilies of the valley. She didn’t think she had time to fit everything in, but after taking time to slow down, she was able to put her exams into perspective and resume her studies more focused and less stressed out.

The advice Johansen offers is easy to apply in small doses until they become habits. One I’ve taken to heart was to take time to exercise in nature. I took a (very slow) job along the Mississippi the next day, and came back with my mind clear and ready take on the rest of my day. To counteract some of that exercising, the book  includes over 90 pages of recipes for comfort food (I had to smile at a cocktail recipe that involved sparkling wine and gummi bears.) It’s heavy on home care and decorating suggestions, that tend to favor easy to clean, simple items.

However, as the book continues, it moves past cooking and decorating tips to sections about how connect more with the people we care about and prioritize the things that make us happy. In the end, the message is to focus on the little details that make your life warmer and cozier.

How to Hygge is available at all three branches of the library. If you are interested in learning about the concept from another point of view, we also have The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking.

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