Design
This Is What Happened When I Tried Being Hygge for Five Months
My obsession with the Danish lifestyle trend spun out of control.
Comments

Did I forget to blow out the candles? I did! Or I think I did. Wait—maybe I didn't. How many candles did I even light?

It had been two days since I decided to incorporate the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) into my life, and I decided that lighting candles was the quickest way to add a dash of the cozy atmosphere that helps Danes survive their long, cold winters to my life. So I lit at least five candles, enjoyed the warm light for a few moments, and then completely forgot to extinguish them when I went out later.

My five-month long experiment with hygge was off to a horrible start—and it would only get worse. Going hygge would drive me nearly insane as I questioned my home decor decisions, my career, and my approach to, well, life. It would take a hygge evangelist—an actual Dane—to rescue me from the brink of madness.

I first heard about hygge last September when this website syndicated a story called "11 Ways To Make Your Life More Hygge" from our sister site in the UK. It promised to create "feelings of happiness, friendliness and wellbeing" by incorporating simple things like lighting candles, baking bread and drinking cocoa into my everyday life. While practicing hygge has been part of Danish culture for many years, it became such a huge trend in the UK last year that it was even picked as a Collins Words of the Year for 2016 (second only to Brexit).

I knew the Danish trend had completely infiltrated America when all the new products and services I started seeing in January were dubbed hygge—from blankets, to hotels, to air fresheners, to cocktails and even wine pairings (yes, seriously). So I decided to see if this trend would actually fix my annual winter blues.

After the candles, I moved on to my favorite part of hygge: pastries. In an interview with The Guardian, Mette Davidsen-Nielsen, chief executive of the Danish newspaper Information said, "Alcohol, sugar and fat are the three key ingredients of hygge."

As an avid baker with an insatiable sweet tooth, this one should've been easy for me. But instead of baking a simple batch of cinnamon rolls to enjoy with my friends—which would have been the hygge thing to do—I decided to make a complicated star-shaped pattern with my pastry that I found on Pinterest. While it turned out well, it was time-consuming and stressful when it didn't turn out just as pretty as the Pinterest image that inspired me. One of the key points of hygge is keeping things simple, so I was frustrated with myself for letting a finicky project take over an entire afternoon that I could have spent doing a more relaxing activity, like reading a book or taking a walk.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Another Sunday, another batch of cinnamon rolls.

A post shared by Lyndsey Matthews (@lyndseymatthewscakes) on


Even I was annoyed with myself at this point, so I moved on to the next part of my hygge experiment—clothes. The fact that the Danish have a specific word for the pair of sweatpants you love but would never be caught dead wearing in public—hyggebukser—was one of the things that sold me on trying out this lifestyle experiment. While my office is a pretty casual place, this Instagram shows how far down the rabbit hole I fell—snow boots, turtleneck, gigantic knit sweater and all. I guess this part counts as a "success" in my hygge experiment.


But I was far from hygge nirvana, and my apartment was the thing bugging me the most. The hygge home is supposed to be a cozy and comfortable haven from the outside world. Even though I've lived in my apartment for almost three years, I've never made the rental feel like a home.

Since I couldn't trust myself to light candles in my apartment anymore, I figured I'd try to make the atmosphere cozier in my apartment by fixing the harsh overhead lighting situation another way. After adopting two kittens last summer who love chewing on loose cords, buying a bunch of table lamps was out of the question. So I figured that I could make my home more hygge without endangering my mischievous kittens by installing a dimmer on my light switches and hanging battery-powered fairy lights that I found on Amazon for just $10 above my door frames.

After admitting to myself that there was no way I could reach the top of my door frames or do electrical work on my own, I decided to call in a professional. When I saw that TaskRabbit—an online platform that connects you with skilled people who can handle your chores for you—was offering a service to make your house more hygge I jumped at it, and was connected with a professional handyman named James. In under an hour (and less than $100), the atmosphere in my house instantly became cozier and less harsh.

While hygge isn't as intense as the Marie Kondo method of getting rid of anything that doesn't "spark joy" in your home, having less clutter does make the atmosphere in your living space instantly more hygge. While I could have spent a day agonizing over what to keep and what to toss, I decided I needed professional help once again and hired Catherine from TaskRabbit for her organizational skills.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Never underestimate the power of someone else editing your belongings down to what actually matters. For $49/hour, Catherine eliminated the clutter and detritus that had accumulated on my bookshelf (mail, paperwork, books, etc.) and turned it into something that actually made me calm, happy—and yes, more hygge—making it totally worth the money spent.

The Taskers inspired me to take more ownership of my home, so as a last ditch effort to make my apartment the perfect hygge haven I decided to create a hyggekrog (the Danish word for "cozy nook") in an unused corner of my living room.

But left to my own devices, I failed once again. A key component to a hyggekrog is a big comfy armchair for reading. Instead of just going out and picking one, I obsessed for weeks on Pinterest trying to find the perfect one. I felt like I was missing the point. Being hygge should have made me feel more calm and relaxed in my house, but instead all I was doing was stressing myself out by staying up too late and staring at a computer screen for hours trying to decide if I should spend way too much money on a chair at West Elm, Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel.

That's when I decided to turn to an expert for help. I figured if Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the New York Times bestseller The Little Book Of Hygge, couldn't help me, nobody could. So I called Wiking to explain my hygge failure to him. After he stopped laughing at my dangerous candle habits and chair obsession, he told me what I was doing wrong.

"Hygge is not about things," Wiking told me. "It's about an atmosphere that is inexpensive and accessible for all."

But what really hit home to me was his emphasis on how hygge is actually about relaxing enough to accept your imperfections. "It's about not being perfect in the company of others," Wiking told me. "If I'm having people over to my house I'll leave dirty dishes on the counter to make them feel more relaxed."

I'm the first one to know how "perfectly imperfect" I can be, especially when it comes to doing the dishes the same day, or the next day, or um…you get the idea. But after working at Martha Stewart for two years and later as Hearst's resident "Pinterest Guru," I've always felt the need to at least present the idea of having a Pinterest-perfect home. But after talking to Wiking for just 15 minutes, I realized I needed to start cutting myself some slack.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"You've been focusing on the candles, the nice chair but not the core values itself. It's adding stress," he said after listening to my hygge crisis.

So how was I supposed to fix my ways?

"It's probably better to start with the values and ingredients, such as relaxation and indulgence," Wiking said. "It's about giving yourself a break."

My aspiration for domestic perfection has almost crippled me. Instead of just going out and deciding what I like and want, I spent hours obsessing over the coziest candle scent and combing through Pinterest boards without taking action. Will finding the perfect blush pink reading chair make me truly happy? Who knows? But it surely stressed me out for several weeks until I realized that the light gray IKEA chair that cost less than $300 was just as comfy and got the job done.

So if you want to make your life more hygge, don't feel the need to buy a bunch of candles and light them every time you want to relax. Instead, only light a candle if you feel the desire to do so.

Just don't forget to blow it out when you leave your house.

From: Country Living

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

Comments
View More Articles About:
About The Author
Lyndsey Matthews
View Other Articles From Lyndsey Matthews
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
Apple's newest iPhone has killer cameras and a bright edge-to-edge display that make it the best one ever.
 
Share
"It's chaos-you're not even really sure what you're shooting at," Menendez says in a new interview.
 
Share
Although it has the smallest production of all the Grandes Marques, Charles Heidsieck remains one of France’s most iconic Champagne producers.
 
Share
Even Gatsby would be jealous of these high-end gifts.
 
Share
The actor, who stars in The Square, is having a very good year.
 
Share
The hotel offers a package that lets you live it up like Kevin McCallister for a night.
 
Share
The celebrity-favored luxury resort Villa d'Este has a rich-and royal-history.
 
Share
What are the rules on royal wills? What secrets can be found in them?
Load More Articles
INSTAGRAM
CONNECT WITH US