Hygge and Ikigai: Just What the Hell are They, and How Do I Get Some?

You must have heard of it right? Hygge is big at the moment. Everyone is desperate to tell you how it’s pronounced and that it isn’t a ‘physical thing’. Personally I’m not a big fan of people telling me I’m not pronouncing a word correctly when they’ve only just heard of it last month themselves, so I won’t do that to you!

In fact I’ve probably only used hygge in the title to lure you into a post about feeling good about yourself. That’s basically what the Danes invented the word for. Those little, important, perhaps even forgettable (in a good way, if that’s possible!?) moments that just make you feel happy.

But what is ikigai? I hear your unmistakably inquisitive voice asking? This Japanese word is used to describe your reason for getting out of bed each morning. It is closely linked with your career, with the ultimate aim being to earn a living doing something that you are passionate about and that gives back to the world.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to spend your day fulfilling your ikigai and enjoying hygge?

Everyone will tell you that you can’t design hygge, it just happens. Equally, it might be said that your ikigai is ‘discovered’ rather than achieved. Well, am I going to go against the flow again here? Damn straight!

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Getting Some Hygge

When I first read about hygge, I wanted some of that just like everybody else. I definitely wasn’t getting enough and it reminded me just how wonderful it feels when you have those happy moments with friends, those cosy afternoons on the the sofa watching the rain, that virtuous feeling when you genuinely help someone out.

Introducing elements to your home to encourage hygge is perhaps the easiest thing to start with. What kind of moments really make you feel great? Hosting amazing dinner parties? Curled up in front of a fire? A delicious cup of coffee whilst beholding your lovely home? It’s all about creating an environment in which it is easy to experience hygge.

A roaring fire in the winter is perhaps the image that comes to mind most prominently for me. We have a wood burner in our living room so we love gathering in front of that. But you don’t need a wood burner or an open fire, just think outside the box (or fireplace). Electric faux fires are actually really good and only need a wall and a power source. Failing that, just turn the heating up a little and look up ‘roaring fire’ on Netflix, Prime, etc. They are honestly really effective…I’ve spent New Year’s Eve in front of a TV fire playing games with friends before.

Add in a ridiculously cosy throw, a great book and the best hot chocolate EVER! et voila; you’re good to go. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered; find that hot chocolate recipe below.

Greatest Hot Chocolate:

  • 50g of 70%+ cocoa solids dark chocolate
  • 200ml of full fat milk
  • 50ml single cream
  • Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a thick bottom pan and stir until it thickens a little. Pour into a big mug and add marshmallows!
  • We didn’t promise it would be healthy!

Who says you can’t design hygge!?

The best hygge is enjoyed with friends or family though so why not start a regular event with whoever you’re keen to see more often. What if you had a group of friends who took turns to host a Sunday afternoon hygge sesh? What would yours look like? We’ve thought about this too and it would go something like this:

James and Catrin’s Sunday Hygge

  • Get all the weekend chores done and dusted in the morning
  • Prepare some healthy mezze dishes together with our favourite music on (Catrin is going to get twirled for sure!)
  • Welcome friends over for lunch and see those happy satisfied faces
  • Perhaps a little stroll through the woods nearby
  • Crack open the games box and some wine
  • See where the afternoon takes us!

If you need a game suggestion, we’ve recently discovered bears vs babies which is… well, you have to experience it to understand fully, but it’s awesome!

If you arm yourself with the tools (such as a great game!) you can be prepared to indulge in some hygge at any time. It just started raining? Great! Make some amazing coffee* and sit up against a window watching the drops run down.

* Great Coffee Checklist

  • Coffee grinder
  • Our favourite coffee beans (or ground coffee if you don’t want to get a grinder, but it really makes a difference freshly ground)
  • Cafetière or French press
  • If you want to make a cappuccino, you can froth your milk separately in the cafetière by putting your milk in it and heating in the microwave (without the press) for 30 seconds, then pumping the press up and down 5-10 times. Just make sure the cafetière contains no metal when in the microwave! This video shows the process well.

How about a spa in your own home? Ok, it may be a bit extreme to swap your bath out for a jacuzzi (or is it….?) but you can invest in some luxurious towels, a bathrobe, epsom salts, scented candle and bathe with a cocktail in hand. Afterwards your partner can give you an aromatherapy massage (ok, this may involve some bartering!).

The important thing to remember is that you’re just facilitating hygge, you’re not trying to force it. Think of all the nice experiences you’ve had that make you feel warm, fuzzy, content, happy and then think of what you would need to have in your home to allow you to experience similar moments when you feel like it.

To help you on your way, this lovely book by Meik Wiking gives you more insight into hygge.
Ikigai 1
Finding your Ikigai

Now ikigai is a slightly different beast. This simple idea can have a major impact on your whole life, from your state of mind to your annual income. It’s not just a quick pick me up like hygge.

At it’s very basic definition ikigai is about doing something you love to do.

If it’s something you’re good at, even better.

If it’s something you can be paid for, even better still!

If it is something that benefits the world, perfect! But I feel if you are a better person for doing something you love, then that is beneficial to the world anyway!

Think of what really makes you happy. It could be a hobby, travelling, cooking, helping people find their ikigai! It could be something you’ve forgotten you love! Delve deep and really explore what interests you, excites you and makes you curious.

If it was easy for you to do that because you’re already doing something you love to do, that’s great! But if not, why not?

Try it out, see if you love doing it a lot, see if you’re good at it. Most things that people are good at can earn them some money. Just google ‘how can I make money from….. dog walking/being clever/climbing trees/painting’. Perhaps not all at once. I can think of ways to earn money from all of those straight away.

Once you’ve found your passion (something you love to do and are good at) and you’ve figured out how you can make money from it, then you need to face the elephant in the room…

‘But I make plenty doing my safe office job’. Ok, yes, but at this point you have to make sure you understand that you have a choice. No one is in control of your life but you. You have to weigh up whether you would be better off earning more in your safe, unfulfilling job or lowering your standard of living for a while, but really enjoying your day, every day. If it’s your passion I bet you’d do everything you could to be a success!

Perhaps you can try it out in some way before jumping ship. I’ll fully admit, that’s exactly what I’m doing right now with this blog!

I’ve got a bit carried away I think. I was just intending to introduce the concept of ikigai!

If after reading this all you do is think about what you love doing and do a bit more of it then I’ll be very happy! (making people happy is actually a part of my ikigai!).

This excellent book by Hector Garcia and Frencesc Miralles guides you on the path to your Ikigai very nicely indeed!

Hygge and Ikigai Simplicity

Hygge and ikigai are nothing special. They’re just nice sounding, currently popular, conveniently meaningful words. It’s what you take from their meaning that matters.

Do you love sitting in front of a fire sipping mulled wine with your family at Christmas? Of course you do! Do you call it hygge? Of course you don’t (unless you’re Danish perhaps!).

It is great that these words are popular though as it makes us more aware of what is possible in our lives.

Go get some hygge and ikigai in your lives everyone!