Over the last few years, Denmark positioned itself as one of the happiest countries in the world. To the people of Denmark, there is a strong link between happiness and the single word that communicates so much -“Hygge”.
According to Meik Wiking from the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen whose book “The Little Book of Hygee; The Danish Way to Live Well”, was among 2017’s world bestsellers.
“Danes are the happiest people in Europe according to the European Social Survey, but they are also the ones who meet most often with their friends and family and feel the calmest and most peaceful. Therefore, it is with good reason that we see a growing interest in hygge. Journalists are touring Denmark searching for Hygge; in the UK, a college is now teaching Danish Hygge; and around the world hygge bakeries, shops and cafes are popping up”’.
Hygge (hoo-ga) doesn’t directly translate to English, but it can be explained as comfort, togetherness, warmth. Hygge is particularly practised during the winter season when deprived of sun rays, and natural daylight Danes turn to the cosiness of their homes in the company of family and friends. They invest in the atmosphere rather than in things and celebrate simple pleasures in life; like having hot cocoa by the candlelight or a relaxing movie night with friends.
Although the winter season naturally provides the most hyggelig (hygge-like) moments, Danes enjoy hygge all year round. Backyard dinner parties, bonfires on the beach or outdoor movie nights are just some hyggelig summer activities.
In contrast to cold Scandinavia, Australia enjoys plenty of sunshine and it is, home to most amazing landscapes. Australian lifestyle is free-spirited and easy going, and Australians don’t take their home for granted and consider themselves extremly lucky. Like Danes, Aussies, as well, love spending time in the company of friends and family, they enjoy the humour, relaxed conversations and friendly atmosphere. And like in Denmark, the best things in life in Australia are free, too.
With Sydney and Melbourne who year after year are battling over the title of the world’s most liveable city, Australia is persistently scoring high in international quality of life and happiness surveys. Furthermore, Australia was named the world’s happiest nation by the OECD for three years in a row, starting 2013. So, it looks like Danes are not that much happier than Australians. The only difference is that Australians don’t have the word to describe it (yet).
But what could be Australian equal for Hygge?
One thing is certain if we were to go looking for those special moments of happiness in Australia, the indoors are not a place to start. It’s more likely that the path would take us to the backyards or by the pools; it would take us along the beaches, to the lakes and river shores. We could hear loud murmurs of joy in the shades of trees in the parks, under the gazebos at the beaches and in the hypnotising sound of the ocean.