Review Tuesday: The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

I came across The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way To Live Well by Meik Wiking while perusing the shelves of a bookstore, and I picked it up purely because it looked so cute. The book is small in size, with gorgeous coloured photos spread throughout and it immediately draws the eye. The information also comes at you in digestible bite size pieces, which doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed with information. And the information, is incredibly interesting.

From Goodreads:

Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That’s down to one thing: hygge.

‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’

You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.

Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He is committed to finding out what makes people happy and has concluded that hygge is the magic ingredient that makes Danes the happiest nation in the world.

After reading this book, I am still hard pressed to be able to define hygge in a sentence. It is part culture, part way of being, and part mindfulness. But this book does a fantastic job of combining all of those elements to explain what hygge is, why it is so important, how to create it, and most importantly perhaps, how it affects your happiness levels.

The book is broken down into chapters that firstly, start defining what hygge is, and how it is woven into Danish culture, then secondly, how to create it and thirdly, why it is so important.

I found the whole book fascinating. I loved learning that Denmark as a country burns more candles than any other country in the world and that is because candles are essentially to creating hygge. (Also, I found it very interesting that they, in general, don’t go in for scented candles at all). I loved learning about the culture aspects of hygge, and how it affects Danes and thus society.

It was also wonderful to learn how to go about creating hygge. I found myself relaxing as I read this book. Hygge is about unplugging from the world, having relaxing times with your friends – potluck dinners, picnics, board game nights etc. – with good food, and wearing comfortable clothing. It’s about slowing down, and creating moments that can be remembered long after they’ve ended. It’s about sitting with a cup of tea, a blanket and a book or watching the world go by from the window. And I think the most overwhelming thing about it is about creating mindfulness.

Danes purposefully go about creating hygge. They are mindful of what makes it, and about places that have it. They ensure that they make it or get it because it makes them feel good, it puts them in the moment, it connects them with other people and/or themselves, it makes them appreciate life so much more – and thus makes them that much more happy. (Danes are routinely coming in first place for happiness reports – they’re the happiest people in the world).

After reading this book, I’m definitely more mindful of what makes hygge, and how I can go about making it – in my home, with my friends etc. It’s also rather fortuitous because I have a new apartment, so I’m going to work in some of the suggestions about creating a place that is hygge – less overhead lights, and more standing or table lights – it creates a better atmosphere for example.

This is definitely a book for you if you’re looking to be more mindful about being happy, and interested in creating hygge for yourself. One of my favourite books so far this year.

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Quote Monday: Paulo Coelho

“Be present. Make love. Make tea. Avoid small talk. Embrace conversation. Buy a plant, water it. Make your bed. Make someone else’s bed. Have a smart mouth and quick wit. Run. Make art. Create. Swim in the ocean. Swim in the rain. Take chances. Ask questions. Make mistakes. Learn. Know your worth. Love fiercely. Forgive quickly. Let go of what doesn’t make you happy. Grow.”

-Paulo Coelho

Personal Friday: The Happiness Jar

Everyone has bad days. It’s a given. Most of my bad days come from my colitis and my anxiety (most, not all). I find that when one of those acts up or when both of them act up at the same time it’s very easy for my thoughts to turn negative and my energy to lower and to just feel all around down.

My thought process when this happens also quickly becomes something like “it’s always going to be this way,” “it’s never going to get better,” “no one will want to be with me because of these problems,” etc.

So, to combat these negative thoughts and feelings when they happen, I’m taking a page from Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, and making a happiness jar. I follow Elizabeth on Instagram and recently she posted a picture of her happiness jar, and explained what it is.

Essentially it’s you, every day, writing down on a piece of paper something about the day that made you happy and putting it in the jar. It seems simply enough. But it’s a powerful thing I think to combat your bad days.

My plan to help combat my negative thoughts when I have them, when I think that “it’s always going to be this way,” or “I’m always going to feel this way,” is to simply look at my jar – my jar full of happiness – and remember and see right there in front of me that no it won’t always be this way and here are the moments that prove it.

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I got the jar from the dollar store, and I was just going to use whatever paper I had lying around, but the jar is ribbed so it’s a little hard to see into, and thus regular paper is super hard to see in it. So I went back to the dollar store and bought a little thing of coloured paper, which as you can see in the above picture, shows up better in the jar. I think that this is going to be a good thing for me, and it cost me less than $5. You really can’t go wrong with that.

I’ve also realized since starting this that even on my bad days, I can find something to be happy about. I’ve noticed too that I’m a bit more aware of my days, and what happens in them because I’m looking for the happy moments, and I think that also helps change your attitude about the day because it puts it and your brain into a more positive setting.

So thank you very much Elizabeth Gilbert for sharing the idea 🙂

 

Review Tuesday: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I really enjoy biographies, and for some reason this year I’ve read more celebrity biographies than I usually do. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Yes Please

It was obviously a funny and entertaining read. It was interesting reading about her experiences with improv and SNL. I, for instance, didn’t know how close she and Seth Meyers are, though now that I know that, it makes complete sense to me.

I also found it at times very insightful about life in general, which took me a little by surprise, though it shouldn’t have. She had some good advice about sticking up for yourself, about apologizing when you make a mistake, and about essentially being brave and trying new things.

I also really liked the fact that she didn’t talk about her divorce. It is no ones business but her and her ex-husband’s, and I’m glad that she didn’t go into it, and when she briefly mentioned him, I’m glad that she did in a respectful manner. Too often that doesn’t happen when it comes to divorce.

Lastly, the physical book itself. The book was heavy. It’s the paper it’s printed on – it’s gorgeous, crisp, fantastic for images, and so damn heavy after a while. I found that ever now and again mu wrist would get sore from holding up the book, which sounds so pathetic when I write that out, but it is something I noticed when I read.

If you like biographies, Amy Poehler, and/or funny people this is a book that you shouldn’t miss, and that you’ll most likely enjoy at least as much as  I did.