Recently, I was given the book “Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness” by Marie Tourell Soderberg. The literal translation of “hygge” (pronounced ‘hugar’ apparently!) is “cosy”, but it is used widely to describe all the things that give you warmth, nourishment and make you feel at home.
I have recognised, over the past eight years of working with people of all ages and sizes, that many of the habits that lead us away from the goals we want to achieve are rooted in not being happy or ‘safe’ in some way. These feelings of discomfort or dis-ease often lead us to fill the gap with something not needed by the body, but needed by the mind: eating, drinking, smoking, etc.
Whilst there is no black and white solution for anyone, rationally it seems that we have two main options to change this:
- Find another way to fill the gap through the changing of habits;
- Make the gap smaller so that it needs to be filled less frequently.
We can’t magic away the scars that we carry, nor erase the difficult aspects of our lives, but we can find strength and comfort in the little things… But this is an art and comes more naturally to some people than others. To those of us (like me) who find it difficult to stop, to just be, and to step off the treadmill of life: Hygge doesn’t just require a little effort and application, but also awareness of how easily it can be moulded into something more productive. Maybe making ourselves happier is about making each day a little more more joyful and interesting than those that we are used to experiencing, and raising our aspirations in this process.
Maybe we can make ourselves so happy that we don’t need to need the things that stand in our way? There are so many people trying to lose weight to be happy, when maybe your natural weight will come as a bi-product of actually being happy? I am a believer that if you can find, nurture and cultivate ‘your happy’ whilst exercising and cooking natural foods, all the while listening to your body… it will find the size and shape it was born to be.
My wife specialises in creating the energy and environment which gives rise to Hygge time and this has had a radical change on my body. Over time, my stress levels have come down and I now start eating when I am hungry and I stop when I am full. It is these roots which empower me to trust my life and to not control everything so much. The irony being that to get where you want to be, you need to let go a bit and trust the long-term process.
N.B. Writing this blog reminded me of a TED talk I watched a long time ago by Brené Brown: “The Power of Vulnerability”, where she talks about the fact that we have become a society where we numb how we feel through food, drink etc. We want to control everything, but actually the essence of our wellbeing is rooted in concepts of believing that you are worthy of love and belonging, and letting go to let the joy of authentic connection into your life. If you have the time, it is well worth the watch.