[hygge] the art of living that comes to us from Denmark
Hygge is a feeling that most of us know but can't quite define. To give a name to an experience is to pay attention to it. Hygge can describe feelings that are already familiar to you. It is there in the rhythm of your daily life, in your habits, routines, and rituals.
You don't need Danish recipes or the secrets of a Scandinavian lifestyle to learn how to hygge. It can be found in asking yourself where you feel most at home, what are the activities and customs that anchor you, who makes you feel at ease, what is it that contributes most to your sense of well-being, what do you do to unwind, what do you reach for to create comfort?
For me, hygge exists in moments of contentment, particularly at the beginning and end of the day. We hygger first thing in the morning when we light a candle at our breakfast table, make coffee, pancakes, and packed lunches, and when we return home to each other to share a cup of tea or a glass of wine, to sit around the kitchen table together and enjoy our evening meal.
I invite hygge by lighting fires almost every day, inside or out, by spending time with the people I love and enjoying time alone. Hygge is held in the ritual of the bedtime stories that I have read for the past twenty-three years, in birthday celebrations and the enchantment of Christmas Eve. I hygger when I make risotto, make love, make tea, or read in bed. I find it at the heart of the dance floor, when I walk through our local town, camp at small festivals, or meet a friend for coffee. It lives in my father's study, in my mother's garden, around the table in my aunts' quiet apartments in Arhus, on the veranda under a wide African sky with my husband's family. Hygge arrives when all four children come home and we sit by a fire under the oak trees in the garden, play cards, beachcomb, dance in the kitchen, or curl up under blankets to watch a film together.
I hope that I can translate hygge from a very Danish word to the universal language that it is and that, in reading this book, you will discover the hygge that already exists in your life and become attuned to its presence.
[...] the act of reading is a secret, and sometimes fertile, ceremony of communion. Anyone who reads something that is really worth the trouble does not read with impunity. Reading one of those books that breathe when you put them to your ear does not leave you untouched: it changes you, even if only a little bit, it integrates something into you, something that you did not know or had not imagined, and it invites you to seek, to ask questions. And more still: sometimes it can even help you to discover the true meaning of words betrayed by the dictionary of our times. What more could a critical consciousness want?
One piece of information followed by a denial, that's two pieces of information.
The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible, to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness, not through argument but through feeling, and then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning. It’s not something that committees can do. It’s not a task achieved by groups or by movements. It’s done by individuals, each person mediating in some way between a sense of history and an experience of the world.
Dear Mr. —
It comes down to the meaning of ‘needless.’ Often a word can be removed without destroying the structure of a sentence, but that does not necessarily mean that the word is needless or that the sentence has gained by its removal.
If you were to put a narrow construction on the word ‘needless,’ you would have to remove tens of thousands of words from Shakespeare, who seldom said anything in six words that could be said in twenty. Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound. How about [Macbeth’s] ‘tomorrow and ...