Essays & Opinion

Feeling Hella Hygge

NITRB's exclusive guide to feeling Hygge this winter. Consider your cockles warmed.

I work in a bookshop which means I see a lot of books. One of the jobs booksellers have to do is unpack books from suppliers and put them on the shelves, sometimes arrange them in displays on fabric units. Recently, I’ve noticed that small, square hardback books about being Hygge (a Danish concept, centered around the idea of wellness; feeling warm and cosy as you charge folks £12.99 for a small book with very few words on each page) are doing very well. People want to know how to get cosy. People want to know how to feel well. And if the last three years of international politics have taught us anything, people have to get what they want, even if it’s mental. 

I’m a freelance writer, not exactly rolling in the dollar, so I’ve decided to jump on this trend, write my own Hygge manual. Consider the tips below to be a kind of taster: my calling card to the word. My lifestyle is nothing if not Scandinavian as hell – there is an open box of Alpen in my house and at least one pair of ear-warmers. If you too want to reach these levels of photogenic contentment, look no further. I am here to warm your cockles. 

Hygge Tip One: Enjoy the Simple Pleasures

There’s a lot to be said for understated joy at this time of year, reminding yourself of the way things are and how they’re great. In order to achieve this mindset, it might be necessary to enter a state of total isolation, not only by avoiding social media, but also by not catching the eye of anyone else when you venture outdoors, in case they throw you a wry smile and a pithy remark about how everything’s gone to shit. If this is unavoidable and you do end up in conversation with someone, it’s best to throw them off-guard with your positivity before they have chance to drag you down. The sky is blue, actually, which is marvelous and the birds are still singing so life is STILL a MIRACLE. True though this is, it’s worth remembering not to shout this directly into other people’s faces or write it in anyone’s blood. The inside of a police car is crammed and the siren LOUD but you don’t have to experience them first-hand to appreciate that. 

Hyggge Tip Two: Eat All the Things You Can See with Your Eyes

To stay super-toasty at this time of year, you need to be super-energized. Some wellness gurus will suggest you reach this state by eating energy balls composed of dried fruit and berries or by exposing your anus to the sun (they will, they really bloody will) but I’m not about taking layers off. We’re about putting them on. And by putting them on, I mean several stone. We want to make sure that, when you’re out in the Alps, having your Hygggeful walk in the New Year Snow, you weigh so much that a full-on grizzly bear would put his back out dragging you to his cave. How can this by achieved? Eating everything that doesn’t run faster than you. If you haven’t got the meat sweats, you’re not doing it right. We want that sweaty sheen on the top lip, beads on the brow to dampen your fringe. That bear is going to FREAK. 

Hygggge Tip Three: Burn Baby, Burn

What Greta doesn’t know can’t hurt her. Sure, you’re emitting carbon dioxide into the air and contributing to global warming, melting ice caps etc. but is there anything more Hyggy than a crackling open fire, toasting marshmallows, gradually lowering your enemies into a bubbling cauldron? No, there isn’t. 

Hyggggge Tip Four: Hot Beverages

Have fun making your own winter warmers. Put Baileys in everything. I mean EVERYTHING. Hot chocolate, coffee, porridge, carrot soup, cough medicine, Yakult, your bath in the morning, your bath in the evening, facial scrub, Windex, contact lens lotion. Give the world an Irish Cream tint. Use it as a dressing on salad. If your world isn’t brown, sweet and about ten times more alcoholic than you remember from last year, I don’t want to know. Do you want to be Hyggggge or not? 

Hygggggge Tip Five: Surround Yourself with Friends and Family

The warmest glow of all is the one you get from being around your loved ones. Shared joy is joy worth sharing. The smile of another brings a smile to your own face. The smile might fade for a second while you answer Auntie Jeanie’s question about why you’re still single and living with your parents. It might falter for a fraction of a moment as you seriously consider her remark that your jeans make you look a little fatter than last year. That fire in your heart will be roaring though, keeping you toasty warm from the inside out. If you need to go outside and bawl at the moon, that’s ok. You’re just getting back to the natural roots of our ancestors, the moon-bawlers. It’s natural, it’s all fine. 

Hyggggggge Tip Six: Share Everything

What’s the point of being this content if no one knows just how content you are? Once you’re reached this toasty, warmth from inside-out state, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that you take lots of pictures of your own face so that everyone gets the message. You can hold stuff up and smile at that if you need to, if you’re not yet comfortable with being totally content without a prop. If you’re not sure how to smile totally authentically, here’s YET ANOTHER tip: look at the ground and smile at that and then look up without changing your face and take the photograph. You might want to do this a couple of times until you really get the hang of it. Look down – God, isn’t the ground great? Stopping everything falling straight through to the molten core of the Earth. What a guy. NOW! Look up! Into the camera. Snap!!! 100% legit and content. If it’s not quite legit enough, you can always add filters, crop out the less photogenic people in the background, that guy leering at you. What do they know about being hyyyyggggge? Nothing. They need to buy this book. 

Anyway, like I say, that’s just a snippet. A taster. An amuse bouche, hinting at the decadent delights to come. Keep your eyes peeled for January 2021, when I’ll be bringing out my handbook to Hyyygggee. It’s going to be in hardback, embossed with gold edges and, man, it’ll be WEIGHTY. When you open the front cover, you’ll detonate the glitter which will spill out from the spine and make you feel super calm and happy, reminded that clothes are just our temporary armour on Earth, that it doesn’t matter if you don’t get the glitter out ever because NOTHING IS PERMANENT. 

Consider your cockles warmed

Nothing in the Rulebook editor, Ellen Lavelle, is a graduate of the University of Warwick’s prestigious Writing Programme. An aspiring novelist and screenwriter, she has worked with The Young Journalist Academy since the age of fourteen, writing articles and making short films for their website. She’s working on a novel and interviews authors for her blog – you can follow her @ellenrlavelle on Twitter. She is currently commissioning features for Nothing in the Rulebook and can be reached via the email address.

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