An Experiment in Being Happy

The clocks have gone back, the autumn leaves are starting to fall and winter is most definitely on its way.

And here at Inspired to Change we are talking to more and more people who are struggling with the Winter Blues.

But our winters certainly aren’t as harsh as some other countries and we wanted to find out how they cope during their long, dark winters and see if we could learn a lesson or two from them.

The Danish…famous for cool interior design, Hans Christian Anderson and Lego have in recent years had all eyes on them because of their record as being one of the happiest countries on the planet. How do they do it? There are many reasons they are happy – short working weeks, a positive welfare system and the allegedly untranslatable and unpronounceable, Hygge.

How can it help us in the UK, where a fifth of us suffer symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder when the days draw in and we lose access to sunshine and daylight? Here at Inspired to Change we are always keen to explore the science behind how and why we feel the way we do so we embarked on an experiment. Can we really use the Danes model of Hygge to increase our happiness?

Denmark, further north than us here in the UK, is also known for it’s fairly dire weather – it rains or snows every other day and short days really are short – just 9am-4pm in midwinter. Drizzle and dressing in layers is the order of the day in Denmark, but still they are happy…the secret is their obsession with hygge.

What’s in a name? Hygge has been translated as a hug without touching, cosiness of the soul, the absence of annoyance and many more phrases that circle around the main tenets of togetherness, safety, pleasure and comfort.

Here’s what I’ve been up to in an effort to discover the delights of hygge and how it can help me (and you) enjoy the dark days of winter. The first rule of hygge is comfort…so fluffy blankets, bunny slippers, favourite jumpers, enforced cuddles with my dogs and family favourite films snuggled up on the sofa were my first experiment. The result? I felt as if I was cocooned with a litter of sleepy kittens…it was bliss!

Rule number two is light – which in Denmark means plenty of candles. I wanted to double up on the indulgence factor so I had a candle lit bubble bath. Other than having to work out how to remove candle wax from a plastic bath and dropping my copy of New Scientist into the water, it turned a rather everyday experience into something quite magical and I felt very, very decadent. Maybe not every day, but still – two points for hygge so far!

Rule number three is togetherness, and in my house that means family games night! I lost everything but despite that went to bed and woke up the next day feeling very jolly indeed. Hygge wins again.

Over the week I made soup, bought a new duvet cover and phoned friends like it was going out of fashion and went out for lunch with my besties. I made coffee and took it back to bed to drink and indulged in a gothic novel.

What I found interesting over the course of the week, and what was almost as important as the activities themselves, was the thought and planning that went into them – something which could owe much to the power of hygge. The Danes not only indulge, they spend a significant amount of time thinking and talking about how they intend to indulge…hygge is a way of life.

At the end of the week I can honestly say I felt more relaxed, safe, comfortable and rested. My sleep improved, mood improved and even my concentration increased…not bad for fluffy socks, games night and a bowl of soup!

Ali Hollands writes from her very cosy and Hyggelit Maidstone clinic in Kent. If you’d like to try your own Hygge experiment read our Top Tips to Improve Your Hygge and find out how our other Associates across the UK have been integrating Hygge into their lives.

If you find yourself struggling with the Winter Blues you could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Check out our blog on the subject to find out if you could be suffering. If adding some Hygge to your life doesn’t lift that blue feeling then you may need a few sessions with your local hypnotherapist to help lift your spirits, boost your motivation and increase your productivity.

Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Peterborough, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Devon and Kent. If you would like to find out more about how hypnotherapy can help you lift depression click here to find your nearest therapist and book your free initial consultation.

Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.

To find out how you can train as a solution focused hypnotherapist click here for our hypnotherapy school information