How Hygge Have You Been Lately?

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I’ll be honest; it’s been a while.

After what has been well over a month since my last post, I have finally found the time to put pen to paper, or, rather, fingertip to key.

The last time I felt inspired to write was, right around the time of Blue Monday.

It’s that Monday, right smack bang in the middle January when the novelty of a fresh start has started to wear off.  The cold weather and dark days are no longer filled with expectant festivity but rather an impatience to see just a slither of sunshine.  The twelve day detox and celebrity fitness DVD has had no effect on your seemingly expanding midriff; your jeans are still too tight and appear to be mocking you with their “skinny” label on the inside of the waistband and, whilst we are on the subject of celebrity fitness DVDs, you are now starting to think that that money would have been better spent paying off the credit card bill you racked up in the run up to Christmas, all in the spirit of “‘Tis the season of giving”.  All in all, it’s what scientists and the media tell us is a pretty miserable day.  It’s also the day that you are most likely to give up your New Year’s Resolution.

In the past Blue Monday is not something to which I have given much credence.  Call me old-fashioned but, I thought every Monday post 31st December was rather blue.  Personally, my doldrums were not reserved for just one day of the year and, as for a designated day for giving up your New Year’s Resolution, well, just getting this far would have been an achievement.  This year however, it had my full attention.

Upon hearing the local radio DJ announce, much too chirpily for my liking at that time in the morning, that it was indeed Blue Monday, I was presently surprised and quietly confident.  Instead of shrugging cynically and muttering to myself “which Monday isn’t blue?”, I was revelling in the fact that I was anything but blue, I was practically orange (more about the pitfalls of fake tan later).  Hygge was working.  I was feeling positive and I was feeling purposeful.  I was enjoying the education of a happy lifestyle and writing about it.  I was enjoying blogging and was surprised and humbled by the fact that people were actually reading what I was writing.  Not only that but some people even liked what I was writing.  I had escaped the curse of Blue Monday, I had beaten the January Blues and it was all down to Hygge.  I had been converted and I was euphoric; nothing could stop me.  So convinced was I by the power of Hygge that I wanted to spread the gospel and so I turned to the all important medium that is Social Media. I sent my first tweet and popped my hashtag cherry and was even more delighted when said tweet was liked by none other than the Hygge guru himself, Meik Wiking (or, rather his publicist, my friend would later cynically tell me).  I had done what I had set out to do, I had embraced Hygge and as a result I was happy.  I had achieved my New Year’s Resolution and it wasn’t even Pancake Day yet.

But then something happened.  Something so perverse and unspeakable that, up until this point I have not been able to do just that, i.e. speak about it.  I was rudely pushed from my righteous position on Cloud Nine and brought crashing back down to earth by the lesser know cousin of Reality, also known as Work.  And so, to answer my own question How Hygge Have You Been Lately? the answer is not at all because, quite simply, work has got in the way.  And so, if I’ve been too busy to Hygge, what does that say about my current state of happiness?

The answer to this question does not probably take a genius but, surprisingly, it did take several geniuses from Princeton to tell us what we already know all too well: that out of daily experiences, work is what we spend the most time doing and yet yields the least amount of happiness; put simply, work is the biggest obstacle to Hygge. Whilst the love and respect that I have from Meik Wiking and his Little Book of Hygge, after reading his thoughts and observations on Daniel Kahneman’s Day Reconstruction Method, the phrase “No shit Sherlock,” springs to mind.

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Source: The Little Book of Hygge: The Day Reconstruction Method

But then, what would happen if we did something crazy? Something revolutionary which could break the mould?  What if we did something for a living which we actually enjoyed?

After growing up with the sit-com Friends, I often feel as though our generation has been programmed to do what you love and love what you do.  I always remember that episode when Chandler is looking for a career change and is disappointed to find that after several personality and cognitive tests, he is best suited to doing his current job.  He takes it on the chin though, citing that you’re not supposed to like your job anyway.  It is at this point that all five of the other characters interject and profess the love that they have for their jobs, even Joey, the out of work actor.  Fast forward a couple of years, the female generation was then inspired by four late-thirty-something year old women in Sex and the City.  Samantha was the ballsy and glamourous owner of her own PA company, Miranda was a successful and erudite lawyer, Carrie as the witty writer suffering for her art and for her penchant for designer labels and Charlotte … well, Charlotte, in this post-feminist society was the one you were supposed to relate to the least because all she wanted to do was marry a Wall Street banker and be a kept woman on the Upper East Side (looking back at it now, however, maybe Charlotte was on to something … ).

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At the tender age of eighteen, these characters, nay, people, were a beacon of hope.  They were what a middle-class Midlands suburbanite could aspire to.  It didn’t matter that they were living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, doing jobs which probably didn’t even cover the rent on their Brownstone loft apartment; they were doing what they loved and loving what they do, all the while drinking copious amounts of coffee and Cosmopolitans.

Of course, reality always has a funny way of telling you how it really is and for most people life isn’t about trotting up and down the streets of Manhattan in Manolo Blahnik’s.  I often wonder if my generation would benefit more from a jab to help ease the effects of reality rather than a jab for rabies because, let’s face it, in this day and age, you are more likely to be bitten by reality than a rabid dog.

John Lennon famously sang that he was a dreamer but that he wasn’t the only one.  And so, is it so crazy to do a job that you love?  Is it impossible to find work that you enjoy?  Am I a dreamer too and if so am I the only one?  Is there such a thing as the Holy Grail of work and if so, if work is Hygge’s greatest hurdle surely by loving what you do and doing what you love that’s one way to get over it?

Do what you love, love what you do; do what you Hygge, Hygge what you do.

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