Think about some of your warmest memories—drinking wine and reminiscing with girlfriends, chatting with your mom while she whips up a batch of your favourite muffins, having a dinner date that leads to cocktails that leads to stargazing by the water because neither of you want the night to end—that’s hygge. It’s finding happiness in the every day, and all you need to be able to attain it is to know about it.
Some say the Danish word is pronounced “hooga” but according to Marie Tourell Søderberg, author of Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness, it’s like this: The “y” is similar to the French “y” sound—think “huge,” and the “gge” sounds like the first syllable in “girl.” But, it doesn’t really matter how you say "hygge"—you just need to get it. And to get it, you need to know where it comes from.
Hygge originates from a Norwegian word that means “well-being,” and in English, it means “coziness,” but it’s much more than that. Hygge is appreciating the little things in life. It’s “all the small things that make us feel safe, loved and satisfied,” says Søderberg. Hygge is doing things with warmth and joy, being present in the moment, and having a feeling of home—in other words, the Danish way of life.
Denmark is ranked as one of the happiest nations in the world, and hygge is likely an “ingredient in the Danish recipe for happiness,” says author Meik Wiking in his book, The Little Book of Hygge. Compared to other Europeans, Danes “meet most often with their friends and family and feel the calmest and most peaceful.” And that’s why there’s a growing interest in hygge.
Books on the subject are quickly filling up store shelves—a simple Indigo search will pull up more than five books on hygge, all of which have come out in the later half of 2016 (including Søderberg’s and Wiking’s) or will be coming out in the early months of 2017—just in time for winter, which is pretty much the reason why hygge exists.
In her book, Søderberg says, “It originated due to the need to create joy, warmth and togetherness in a country that boasts long, cold winters”—something Canadians can relate to. Hygge encourages you to embrace the cold months instead of waiting for the sun to shine again. But, anyone, anywhere, can enjoy the benefits of hygge any time of year, as it’s all about sharing moments with those you love, indulging in comfort foods, and taking in the sights and sounds around you.
Understanding hygge and having a name for it helps you recognize it and look for it in your day-to-day life. “Including it in our daily narratives and language makes us aware of the qualities of the word. Saying, ‘let’s hygge tonight,’ states a clear intention of what qualities we want our evening to have—presence, lovingness, relaxed, informal—all these qualities in one word,” says Søderberg.
Intimate candlelit dinner parties, mulled wine by a fire and ice skating under twinkling lights are classic hygge moments, but it can also be found when you're not expecting it. Hygge can happen in the least hyggelig (the adjective form of “hygge”) locations or in those in-between moments throughout your day—like when you're hiding from the rain under an awning with a friend, listening to a sax player as you wait for the next subway to arrive, or laughing with your sister over the phone.
Although hygge can happen anywhere, the most common place for it is at home, so it helps to make your living quarters feel warm, safe and welcoming—think candles, warm textiles and plenty of personal touches. In Søderberg’s book, she shares decorating advice from Nordic interior design expert Christina B. Kjeldsen: “The hygge comes when you feel that the person behind the surroundings is completely comfortable with his or her choices, but at the same time isn’t afraid of decorating intuitively and trying out new things and ideas…When you put thoughtfulness into how and why you have chosen to surround yourself with particular furniture, objects, art, flowers, knick-knacks, curtains—whatever—then you relax and your guests will see and know you for who you are.”
But, it’s important not to feel pressure to create a perfect space or occasion and force hygge. Decorate your space for you and not how you think it should be, and let moments unfold naturally—something that can be all too rare in this social media age. Søderberg warns, “The most hyggelig evening can look like a disaster in a picture, and opposite—the least hyggelig can look like a perfect evening.” But, if you have a true hyggling moment, it’ll be a “piece of art to capture the exact sense of an atmosphere in a photo.”
So, keep hygge on your mind. Make plans to hygge, be present in every moment, and soak up life's glories. And if you do, you’ll be gifted with the ability to, as Søderberg says, “[find] the magic in the ordinary.”
Enter for your chance to receive one of four prize packs with all seven of this month's top picks from Penguin Random House Canada.
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The iconic lifestyle expert shares stylish ways to give your bedroom a fresh new look.
We recently had the chance to talk to Martha—who just launched her latest collection of home decor products at Hudson’s Bay—and ask her some of our burning questions about bedrooms and bedding. Yes, she irons her bed linens. No, she doesn’t like accent cushions on her bed, instead opting to style them on a nearby chair or chaise. How often does Martha think you should change your sheets? Once a week. “Investing in good bed linens will last you for many years. Wash them once a week and they will last you for a very long time,” she says. Here’s what else Martha has to say about making your bedroom design a “good thing”:
1. Add a headboard
A headboard can instantly pull an entire bedroom together! It gives the room a focal point when layered behind your comfy, cozy pillows.
2. Use colourful accents
Liven up your room with colourful lamps, a fresh coat of paint on an old dresser, or wallpaper in your closet. A light, floral pattern makes a statement next to a solid wall without being too bold. It's eye-catching and creates depth.
3. Use mirrors
Create the illusion of more space by using a wall full of mirrors. It's a beautifully polished touch that matches almost every colour and decor.
4. Get artsy
Bare walls really only mean one thing –room for art! Keep your bedding subtle and go bold with your favorite paintings and art pieces. It will make your bedroom more personal and way more interesting.
5. Style the nightstand
The nightstand is an oft-neglected but valuable piece of furniture in your bedroom. Turn it into a picture-perfect composition that will make your bedroom feel both homey and inspiring.
If you can't find time to hit the gym, you can still do an at-home workout with a quick search on YouTube. Here are five fitness channels that will help you work up a sweat.
Don't feel like going to the gym? No problem. Recently, YouTube has undergone a fitness revolution as trainers post exercises and routines that you can do at home or on the go.
Searches for "home workouts" are on the rise across Canada, and YouTube fitness gurus are stepping up to meet the demand. "There are over 11 million videos on YouTube with 'home workout' in the title," says Google and YouTube trends expert Jenn Kaiser. And you don't have to limit yourself—the videos offer everything from Pilates and yoga to ab and HIIT challenges. We asked Kaiser about the top trending fitness crazes in Canada and the best workouts to try for each.
1) For your yoga fix
"Searches for yoga have been on a steady rise over the past eight years. Today, almost 3.8 million videos have 'yoga at home' in the title," says Jenn.
What to watch: Get a little zen at home with our pick, Yoga with Adriene, which has more than 1.3 million subscribers. With lessons for all skill levels and options to sweat and tone or relax and meditate, this channel has something for everyone. One of Adriene's most popular playlists is her Yoga Boot Camp, a 30-day program designed for beginners to fully immerse themselves in the yogi lifestyle.
Why we love it: Adriene breaks down yoga moves for beginners so you can learn them step-by-step.
Don't miss: Yoga for Complete Beginners, 30 Days of Yoga (Day 1) and Power Yoga.
2) For a fun fitness challenge
"Fitness challenges are a huge trend on YouTube," says Kaiser. "They typically involve a combination of different exercises that you repeat, and eventually work up to 200, 500 or 1,000 reps." We might not be completing 200 squats anytime soon, but we like the idea of using a challenge to motivate ourselves to get moving.
What to watch: Blogilates (3 million subscribers). Cassey Ho, the creator of Blogilates, is known for her POP Pilates videos, where she combines Pilates moves with Top 40 hits to make fun challenges for her subscribers. Blogilates is the perfect channel to visit if you're looking to test your limits, with videos featuring squat, ab and push plank challenges, and even a flexibility challenge. Ho's energy and spirit make your Blogilates session something to look forward to.
Why we love it: Ho creates a free, printable monthly workout calendar for subscribers, with each day devoted to working a different part of the body. Her channel also features a segment called "Cheap, Clean Eats," where Ho provides cheap but healthy meal and snack ideas that anyone can make.
Don't miss: Ho's Call Me Maybe Squat Challenge, which is one of the top squat challenge videos on YouTube with more than six million views. Other notable picks: What Makes You Bootyful Butt Challenge and The Ultimate Hot Body Workout.
3) For the ultimate abs
There's no shortage of ab videos online. In fact, "there are over 42,000 'ab challenge,' videos on YouTube" says Kaiser. But some are better than others.
What to watch: BeFiT (2.1 million subscribers). With their 30-day six-pack abs program, BeFiT is the perfect channel to visit to feel the burn. By combining routines from top fitness trainers like Jillian Michaels and Jane Fonda, BeFiT has established a reliable team that will whip you into shape in no time. Aside from ab videos, the channel has a range of exercises to help you tone and build muscle, from Pilates to dance exercises. With their 30- and 90-day workout programs, it's easy to keep up a regular fitness regimen.
Why we love it: BeFiT uploads a new video daily, so you'll never have to wait around for a new routine.
Don't miss: 6 Week Six-Pack Abs, 10-Minute Cardio Dance Abs and Jillian Michaels: Standing Abs Workout.
4) For a high-intensity sweat session
"Searches for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts are at an all-time high in Canada," says Kaiser. "HIIT workouts consist of intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of rest. They have many scientifically proven benefits, and are known to increase metabolism, burn fat and improve cardiovascular health."
What to watch: Our pick for your Hiit challenge is Tone it Up (561,000 subscribers). Founded in 2008 by two best friends, Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn, Tone it Up brings a new approach to fitness with a focus on community and sisterhood. Their enthusiasm and friendly tone makes you feel like you're working out with a group of girlfriends rather than two trainers. Their goal was to create a group for women to stay connected, through their online community and the #TIUgirls hashtag, which allows women to support each other on social media throughout their fitness journeys.
Why we love it: Their videos are filmed on the beach in sunny California and will have you dreaming of your next vacation and how toned your body will be.
Don't miss: Hump Day HIIT!, HIITy Bitty Bikini and Boxing HIIT Workout!
5) For an express workout
If you only have a few minutes for a workout, you might not have time to get to a gym. Luckily there are plenty of express workouts available at the touch of a button.
What to watch: Fitness Blender (3 million subscribers). Fitness Blender was created by Daniel and Kelli Segars, a husband and wife personal trainer team. They started their channel with a mission to make fitness accessible to everyone regardless of income. They provide the perfect resource for at home fitness with over 350 videos for home training. With more than 120 express workouts that you can do in 10 minutes or less, you have no more excuses for skipping your workout.
Why we love them: Their interactive website lets you pick your workout length, calorie burn goal, body focus and equipment so you can have the ultimate at-home session tailored to your needs.
Don't miss: 10 Minute Abs, 5 Minute Butt and Thighs and Quick 10 Minute Core.
Need a workout that requires nothing but a smartphone? Check out these free apps that will make your workout better.