by Ilio Masprone – Publisher – Knight of the Principality of Monaco for cultural merit
MONACO. More than 20 years ago I joyfully read the page-turner bestseller by the French writer Philippe Delerm, whose “La Première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules”, translated into English as “The Small Pleasures of Life”, sold more than one million copies in France. The book is a collection of 35 essays or meditations, each one or two pages in length, describing the joys that can be taken in the “insignificant things” that make up life. More recently I read two other books with similar content that I recommend to my followers, both focused on the minimal pleasures of life expressed by a Danish untranslatable word, “hygge”, pronounced hoo-gah. The two titles are “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meir Wiking, chief executive officer of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, and “”Hygge: the Danish art of happyness”, a collection of people’s ideas on hygge by Marie Tourell Søderberg.
For both the Danes authors “hygge” is basically like a hug, just without the physical touch. Needless to say, this seems to me a perfect way of being in this moment of social distancing!
Both the authors, and before them Philippe Delerm, describe ways of making the most of little, daily pleasures, like reading a book wrapped in a blanket, lighting a candle, relaxing, meeting friends, taking a walk outdoors, pressing “stop”. They describe Hygge as the “coziness of the soul,” outlining practical ways to embrace the buzzy philosophy and its key ingredients: togetherness, presence, indulgence, relaxation, and comfort. Below I extracted from their books some tips for adding more hygge to your everyday life, especially adaptable to the wise confinement yet necessary in the pandemic. Since the beginning of the lockdown, kitchen was a paramount activity, and hygge foods are all about pleasure, actually comfort food. Think cookies, cake, and pastries, and some special treats, rich food like Italian lasagna and tortellini, French pissaladière and socca, Mexican tacos and chili… By now some restaurants reopened, but it is even more hygge than eating these foods is making them with friends and family. For instance a good idea is to create a cooking club instead of throwing traditional dinner parties. Togetherness is a big part of the hygge concept. To facilitate more time with friends and family, create a new tradition that involves a hygge activity. Hygge is making the most of the moment, but it’s also a way of planning for and preserving happiness. Create a cozy atmosphere: “Danes are obsessed with interior design because our homes are our hygge headquarters,” says Wiking. The one thing every hygge home needs? A “hyggekrog,” or a cozy nook where you might enjoy your coffee and newspaper. You can also bring hygge to your space through candlelight, nature, and rich textures. Stock a self-care emergency kit: to survive and relax after a particularly rough day create a kit that contains comfort things like quality chocolate, herbal tea, a soft blanket, a page-turner book, or a notebook and pen, or a photo album. All of these things allow you to wind down in a more mindful way. Last but not least, practice gratitude, because hygge and gratitude go hand in hand. The philosophy entails feeling thankful for the little things, like a bike ride on a beautiful day, or a glass of wine, or re-watching your favorite movie. Research shows that people who feel grateful are not only happier but also more helpful and forgiving and less materialistic. It’s all about savoring simple pleasures.