tea with a friend
Simplifying, Slowing down

Hygge – the lovely of ‘Simple Slow & Lovely

Photo by Matthew Henry

Some of you may have wondered what the Lovely in Simple Slow & Lovely refers to. Simple and slow are fairly self explanatory. But lovely…? What are referring to a good friend asked me? Well I didn’t know either until very recently. Until I discovered the concept of Hygge. 

Back in the middle of the year when I began exploring the idea of committing to creative writing again I had to decide on a name to give my website. Ugh. It’s almost as bad as naming a baby! I knew that I would focus much of my writing on my journey to simplify and slow down…so that bit was easy. However I’m a sucker for the literary ‘rule of three’ or the ‘magic of three’, which suggests that grouping in threes creates a poetic rhythm and aids the impact of a statement or sentence. So in came ‘lovely’.

Lovely is the destination on my road map. It’s a slower, simpler life, with time to stop and watch the world go by. I’ve tasted small sips of lovely during my life… but none have quite quenched my thirst. And lovely didn’t mean happy either. It wasn’t about having it all together. Or having it all. I often felt a sense of this ‘loveliness’ even in messy situations. Like driving down a country road on a over scheduled day. Or indulging in a chapter of a good book on the deck in the sun, despite all the housework. Small snippets dotted here and there.

I just couldn’t quite explain what I meant when I said ‘lovely’ though. It was all of the above, and more, and lots in between. Inexplicable for the most part. It felt like a tongue twister. I knew what I meant in my head but couldn’t for the life of me get it out in any comprehensive way.

And then, I read about about the Danish concept of Hygge. And something clicked. The more I read about Hygge, the more I realised that this was it. The way that the Danish describe the term Hygge, is how I would describe what lovely means to me. It’s the concept most aligned with how I would describe my ‘lovely’.

So what is Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-guh)? Alex over at Hygge House describes it as a word that Danes use to describe a feeling or moment when alone or with family and friends – that is cozy, charming or special. Other authors have described it as a feeling of contentment. So it’s a pretty broad and subjective concept. For example, what might be special to me might not come close to special for you. But here’s the most important concept associated with Hygge. It requires attentiveness. A recognition and enjoyment of the present moment.

If you’ve done any reading on Hygge you’ll know that it is often portrayed as ritualistic, hot cups of tea or cocoa, enjoyed by a cozy fire. Lighting candles to create atmosphere. Ritualizing everyday chores simply means paying attention to what you are doing. Making each moment special. Slowing, and simplifying.

And yes, you can find lots of lush hygge moments in summer too. Sunshine is just as hygge-inducing as a fire! Also we tend to be outside much more in summer which for me is an invitation to stop and notice the world.

My hygge moments:

  • Watering the little plants growing on my windowsill every morning while the kettle boils. It’s a ritual… and it feeds my soul – when I do it mindfully
  • Tickling my girls backs and arms after our bedtime stories. Another family ritual. I get a few moments most nights to lie still and just be with them
  • The smell of spring rain on freshly cut grass
  • A pot of tea or coffee and a good magazine or book
  • Driving into the country – aimlessly. With the windows down.

How to get more hygge (or lovely) moments in your life:

  • Unplug. Turn off the tv and the cellphone and walk out your door
  • Make yourself a decadent hot chocolate with all the trimmings – just because
  • Play an old school movie (I recommend E.T. or The Neverending Story) for the kids and snuggle with blankets and popcorn
  • Run a bath with some essential oils and light some beautiful candles
  • Start your day with some simple breathing exercises or some light yoga.

Ultimately, the Danes seem experts at being kind to themselves. They mindfully create atmospheres that they can enjoy – just because. It’s no coincidence that they consistently rank as the happiest country in the world. If you are practicing hygge on a regular basis… being kind to yourself is an indication that you believe you are worth something. And high self worth is correlated with happiness.

So… back to Lovely.

Lovely is all of the above. It’s my destination. And to get there… on a regular basis, I have to slow down and simplify my life. There’s no room for rush, busy, discontentment and mindlessness on this journey.

Perhaps there is one tiny thing you could do to get hygge (be kind to yourself) today. Go on – i dare you!

Until next time xo