#Lifelessons101 – Hygge – the art of making your life lovelier

7 years and 1 month ago I relocated my life The art of making life lovelierto Denmark. The reasons why and how it all happened are long enough to fill their own book so I won’t tell you that story today. Today I want to tell you about one of the most important life lessons I have learnt by living in this lovely, flat, cold, expensive country and that is hygge. (pronounced huoo-gah)

Hygge is (well until recently), the Danish cultural pearl hidden in the oyster. It is a word that does not translate into any other language, yet every country in the world could benefit from. Let me explain. Hygge is not a thing, its a feeling. It’s that feeling you get inside you when it’s raining outside, the fires is lit, you’re on the sofa under a duvet with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Hygge is the feeling you get when you are sitting having a meal with friends or family where everyone is laughing and just enjoying being together. Hygge is a feeling of happiness, contentment, and cosiness all rolled into one. In my definition Hygge is  simply the art of making life lovelier.

And the Danes do this all the time. In Denmark it is a cultural must to “hygge”, it would be weird if you didn’t. I remember in my first few weeks in Denmark when watching a film, my then boyfriend (who later turned out be Mr ‘never going to be perfect in a million years’ but at this time was still sweet and new) actually said to me “why aren’t you making effort to sit well and be cosy?” My english ‘I’m perfectly well thank you very much’ drama kicked in. However when I look back over this incident 7 years later I can see that he was just trying to get me to feel hygge.(I expect this clash of cultures confused the poor guy as much as it did me.)

Making life lovelier for yourself, having moments that are lovely and cosy are a seriously important social norm in Demark. As is making time for enjoying the benefits that joyful moments can bring in our everyday. Who doesn’t want a piece of that? I mean just think for a moment about where you are in the world and imagine, how different your life would be in everyone you know made making life lovelier for themselves and sharing lovely moments with each other an important social norm? See? Wow. You can see why I stayed here right? In essence the Danes have done what no other country in the world has done. Which is making the art of loving ourselves enough to make our lives lovier, as well as, enjoying simple moments of contentment a cultural norm. See and you thought it was only lurpak and bacon, the danes are culturally geniuses!

By now you are probably thinking about checking out flight prices and investing in moving boxes however, just hold your horses a moment. Hygge is something you can do right now. Right where you are. And if you share this article around with friends and family you can start to build the same cultural norm of hygge we have here. So today’s life lesson comes to you straight from my 7 danish years of learning how to hygge. I hope that you use these tips to make your life lovelier too….

Candles

Candlelight has a magical quality to it. No matter what you are doing lighting candles always changes the atmosphere. Before I moved to Denmark I would have probably described lighting candles as a female activity yet here that is not the case. Both men and women will light candles to create hygge. Especially now in the winter evenings when we light our candles at home it brings an instant feeling of inner warmth and cosiness (even when the electric lights are on). The candle light changes our environment and our mood.

A big part of hygge is about making your environment more cosy. Making it a nicer place to be.  And it doesn’t just have to be adding candle light. For example when I work I play music suited to the task at hand. And recently I found that by adding aromatherapy oils (such as lavender and mimosa) into my cleaning products that my weekly house clean became a much nicer experience.  So if you are doing something, and you want to make your experience nicer put some thought and action into how you can do that, and you will find you can have hygge even if you are just cleaning the toilet!

Pillow fort rituals  

Every friday night in Denmark at six forty-five pm you will find a flurry of pillow forts being built and bowls being filled with snacks, as the children (and often their parents) get ready for the the Disney show.  (I know if you are a danish reader you are now smiling because at some point in your life you did this too). The Disney show with friday night ‘slik’ (candy) is a time honored tradition in Danish culture. Now although thanks to the Disney Co you can find a disney show in almost any country, it doesn’t specifically need to be a disney show ritual you have to create in order to experience ‘hygge’. It is the ritual part that is important.

Creating something you do together the same way, at a regular time is a way to have hygge. Every friday night Mr T and I have date night. We make nice food (if our date is at home), we pre arrange whether we will seeing a movie, playing a game or doing crafts (currently I am teaching him how to tattoo!) It starts at 6pm every friday and it is lovely. A gentle and cosy start to our weekend every week.  A weekly ritual (or monthly if weekly is too much, together with your family or closest friends) gives a comfortable feeling of hygge . Oh and take a tip from the Danes and build a pillow fort once in a while, everything in life is more cosy in a pillow fort no matter what your age!

Snuggling

By now most of the world is familiar with the Ikea catalogues. Scandinavian design flat packed to every corner of the world. But have you ever noticed all the blankets and throw cushions on those glossy pages? They are everywhere. And we the non scandinavian parts of the world have adopted these blankets and cushions into our own homes. The difference is we don’t use them like the Danes. Every Danish home has blankets and throw cushions. However these get used constantly. All those stylish cushions get moved around, blankets are draped over shoulders and legs to improve the quality of snuggling and relaxing.
Snuggling is a big part of hygge and a big cultural norm in Denmark. As an ex teacher from the UK I got a huge shock the first time I walked into a Danish primary school staff room filled with sofas, cushions and blankets and  2 teachers with their feet up, catching 20 mins shut eye and EVERYONE was ok with it. Completely alien to English cultural work values. But over the months I was working there I found it was so great to do the same. Group snuggling is also something that is a cultural norm over here. Now being British (and from a certain type of british family) I had never laid down and cuddled with my girlfriends while watching a film. Yet here it is completely normal for girls and guys, women and men to do this. (And it is without romance this is just normal friendship). It’s for want of a better word awesome. For the full danish experience of hygge cuddle down with a warm cup of something, covered in a blanket and cosy with a pile of cushions and see how your internal smile starts to grow.

The eating experience

Untitled design (8).jpgEating and hygge go hand in hand. Snacks in bowls, coffee with cake. However none of those compare to the big danish eating together hygge experience. The whole family/group of friends gets together to eat and enjoy time together. Instead of one stressed out person creating all the food and activity. In Danmark collectively everyone helps in the kitchen, lays the table, washes up and is part of creating the experience. Everyone pitches in. It’s like Christmas dinner or thanksgiving but without the holiday as an excuse for getting together and enjoying each others company.  

Nothing says hygge like doing things together instead of alone. So if you want to feel a massive burst of hygge invite your friends over for a co creative dinner or lunch. Make the food together, eat the food together and enjoy each other.

Active hygge

Have a hyggelig weekend (1)Although a big part of it hygge is not all eating and blankets and snuggling. Having hygge can also be active. Going for walks, bike rides, having a day trip or even just regularly training at the gym with a friend also constitutes as hygge. Although more often seen as hyggeligt (adjective of the noun hygge pronounced hoo-ga-lee) when done with someone else,  doing things alone, just because it’s lovely, is also seen as ‘hyggelig’. In Danish you can say Jeg hygge mig (I cosy me). So if you want to hygge you then getting out and doing something you love is exactly the right thing to do.

Self pampering is all good

One of the things I love about a culture that prizes hygge is that self pampering is completely socially acceptable. Basically loving yourself is all the rage. Doing hyggelig things for yourself is healthy and improves life quality 100%. So to create more hygge in your life practise some self love and some self pampering. For me this often comes in the form of saunas and facemasks (both easily accessible where I live). Find out the little things you can do easily to pamper yourself and make it important to do them will bring more hygge into your life.

Notice what is not hyggelig and what is hyggelig

Noticing what is hyggelig and what isn’t hyggelig is an important part of making your life lovelier.  Noticing that what you are doing isn’t hyggelig for you, and then doing something to make it hyggelig, is half the battle of learning the art of hygge. (I refer again to the cleaning the toilets comment above).  And at the same time noticing what is hyggelig, and appreciating it makes hygge much more effective in your life. The Danes often say “hvor hyggeligt”, or “how cosy”, when you tell them a story about something you did. They make the point of verbalising that a thing was in fact hyggelig and this makes them notice the good things in life. In other words practising active gratitude makes your life a lovelier place to be.

Making time for hygge

Now this is the BIG one, and is the fine art the Danes have really got down. They make time for hygge. If you asked a Danish person to imagine a life without time for hygge I honestly think their brain would implode. It simply would not make sense to them. And I completely agree. A life where you don’t make time to enjoy being cosy or make time to appreciate and be content with simple pleasures, is not a life well lived (in my opinion). Everyone needs hygge. Make hygge important for you and make time to enjoy it.

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Hygge is an amazing daily practise I have learnt from the Danes. By actively making life more hyggelig for myself I make loving myself, and infact loving my life and my journey in life, more important. If we all did this. If we created this socially accepted culture of self love and creating moments of cosy contentment in life imagine what a world this would be to live in. All it takes is taking a moment to hygge and valuing the gift of a lovelier life that brings.

I hope you take some time to hygge you today….

Happy weekend <3

Have a hyggelig weekend

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De stress before your summer holidays!

I don’t know about you but for years June has been one hectic, pressure pot waiting to explode, then at the end the glorious summer holidays arrived and I, would collapse. Worn out to the edges and totally over stretched when my body finally got told it was ok to crash, it did. Teachers I know especially can relate to this. Somehow as a teacher all the bugs you have been fighting off all year tend to hit you the first day of the holidays.

This year is going to be different. I have 2 and a half weeks until my summer starts so I am going into holiday mode now. This year instead of running on overdrive up until summer I intend to wind down slowly, consciously and get the most out of this precious time out as possible.

How to do it ? Well just follow these easy tips and slide gently into your summer chillax mode:

Know you have time

Yes you have deadlines. Whether it is the shopping for the summer holidays or the corporate merger meeting before your plane takes off to Bali. Know you only have a limited amount of time and that you will achieve what you CAN and NEED to achieve in that time.  make a list of your deadlines and then prioritize in the following way

A: What needs to be done now

B: What can someone else do – delegation

C; What can wait until I get back

Delegate and then focus on the A tasks.

Incorporate you time into your day

15 minutes you time a day will help with your wind down and will give you the energy to get the last things done. Try and take it midway throughout the day. 15 minutes meditation, yoga, nap, walk outside (in nature- it’s definitely the best) or reading will help your body and mind wind down,

For even better results plan a day off before the summer, and I mean a day off, no cleaning, no I have to I should dos. Nada! if you can’t manage a day try two evenings. Any break time you can give yourself do it, your body needs this.

Sleep

Get to bed earlier than you normally do. If you are over stretched then you need your sleep. It truly is one of the best healers in the world. Go to bed 30 mins earlier than usual. If you cannot sleep read or talk to your partner. I find doing mindfulness colouring books in bed (something I have done ever since childhood) is a great wind down. Just make sure you switch off all phones laptops, tvs and tablets. Make the last 30 mins to an hour of your day for you.

Plan your summer holidays

Motivation is what we need. So loosely planning your holidays and how you will use your free time will help your to get motivated and at the same time make sure your get the break you need when you get there. I plan to have the first two days of summer holidays to wind down. I have the usual cleaning, washing and a workshop to write but I am putting those on day 5 and 6. The first 4 days are for me. Then I am going to have a few days to enjoy being at home before packing and hitting the road. My wonderful friend once showed me her first day of summer holidays ritual. She made a poster with all of her things she wanted and had to do on it. She had a great time with it. Putting on glitter glue and drawing, her kid makes one too. With champagne in one hand and glitter in the other this is the start of her summer. However you plan your holidays just make sure there are some nothing days. Completely unadulterated days with no plans and complete freedom.

 

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Start your wind down to summer this week and feel the benefits of arriving on holiday stress free and ready to enjoy your freedom, however you choose to do it!

Relax Unwind

Have a healthy life by celebrating your success! (2 min read)

I’m sitting here alone on a Monday afternoon, in a cafe on a sunny day in Denmark with relaxing jazz in the background and a tall cold, glass of bubbling wine in my hand. I am celebrating my latest success! It’s lovely. I probably don’t look as chic as I feel but it’s the feeling that is important not the way I look. I feel fantastic. And part of the reason I feel so great is not just because I have been successful. It is because I have taken this hour to celebrate my success.

In our busy lives we actually have many successes be they small or large and yet in the hectic schedule they can often be overlooked and therefore go unnoticed.  All work and no play made jack a dull boy and the same goes for you too. Our successes in life are our high points. If we don’t acknowledge them then life is seriously boring.

In today’s society we are all incredibly focused on what is wrong, what is not working and how can we fix it. I am not saying that is all bad, good growth comes from this form of processing; HOWEVER if we only ever focus on the bad, we will only ever see the bad. And if you are seeing only bad then guess what? You will attract more of it. And that my friends creates a negative mindset and we all know how unhealthy and damaging that can be.

There are many reasons why you should celebrate your successes and when it becomes a habit you will find that life actually becomes EVEN MORE successful for you. Why ? Because as you send out a vibration of success the world around you ripples back a wave of success.

Here are 5 reasons why you should celebrate your successes, no matter how big or small, today

It feels great!

It feels wonderful to celebrate something we have achieved. It energises us. When we achieve something our body releases dopamine the happy chemical into our blood. And as  after all being happy and enjoying our life is what we all want, right? So why miss a perfectly good opportunity to enjoy yourself!

It’s inspiring!

 

Celebrating or success can be inspirational to our future successes. Just as we can learn from something going wrong we can also learn from it going right. Make a note of what you did that helped create your success and look at it when you are aiming for a different star.

It’s motivating!

It’s logical. If you are working towards a goal and it always feels like that goal is slipping away and is un-achieveable then why would you want to keep going. By marking our successes big and small, especially the small, we remember them and we can feel how close we are getting to our goal and that makes us want to keep going. Your success are proof that you can do whatever it is your set your mind to do.

It attracts more success!

Basically the more you celebrate your successes you develop a success mindset. And that is a mindset you need to keep feeding. By noting your successes you are telling yourself “look at what I can do”. Keep looking for opportunities to celebrate your success and you will surprise yourself with how often you have success.

It’s shareable!

Celebrating your success with others is a form of sharing abundance. Think about all of your friends happy pictures and statuses on Facebook that make you feel good. People want to have fun, they like to hear good news so let them join in your fun and make everyone feel great!

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So no matter what successes you have had today, big or small, it could be managing to do the washing up when you are seriously depressed or celebrating your first big movie deal, whatever it is celebrate it. Remember as Osho says “Life should not only be lived it should be celebrated”
Have a wonderful week <3

celebrate your success

Radiate self love and a high quality of life in your everyday in 3 steps (3 minutes read)

To be able to love ourselves and have a fantastic quality of life are two of the main goals almost everyone on the planet has yet how many of us allow our outer world to reflect these goals? If you want to manifest self love and a high quality of life (and by that I mean whatever it is you consider to be a high quality of life) you have to create space to allow it to manifest. We often tend to think of this as an internal journey or process, and yes on the one hand it is. On the other hand if you are looking in a mirror, working on your self love affirmations and in the mirror you can see the bathroom is a mess behind you what message do you think this is giving to you own subconscious and everyone else’s about how you value and appreciate yourself and your life?

Your outer world the way you live, the way you dress shows both yourself and everyone else what you think of yourself and your worth. Both these things are mirrors to our relationship with us, our own self love and a mirror of the quality of life we think we deserve. So it stands to reason if you want to have a life of quality, if you want self love this needs to be taken into consideration in your everyday life. Yet how often we don’t take it into consideration, especially with our homes. How many of you rushed out the door this morning dreading the mess you will get home to? (Probably the majority of us!) It’s so easy to say ‘when I get promotion,’ ‘when I move into my dream home’ and ‘when I am living my dream life’ my home will reflect my high quality of life, it will show the world how much I love myself. But you are living in the here and now. Technically tomorrow never comes because when you wake up it is always today, the only day you have the power to change.

So putting the unpacking of the moving boxes off, leaving the washing/washing up/making the bed/emptying the closet until tomorrow means that that the jobs pile up and you don’t feel great about it. It’s depressing. And the universe hears it. If you take the principle that everything you send out gets reflected back to you then trying to manifest self love and a great quality of living whilst living in an environment and manner that says I am not worth better that is exactly what you are going to get.

And that is the complete opposite to what you want. You want an amazing life right now – right? Right.

So let’s do this here and now. I challenge you and me to dedicate this week to creating an environment that reflects your self love and the quality of life you. Here are a few tips to get you started.

What thoughts am I wearing today ?

Now it’s easiest to start with us because on some level What Thoughts Are youWearing Todaywe do this already when we go to work, out with friends etc. We all want to look our best. But have you ever thought about how your mental state affects the choices you make about what you wear and when? When I am feeling worn down I either go for the most comfortable clothes I can find or I dress up and put on a little makeup to boost my spirits, business meetings I power dress to make me feel confident and when gardening having my beaten up cowboy hat on makes me feel proper country and relaxed!

I used to make these choices unconsciously, allowing my mood to dress me. These days by my mirror stand an important post-it note with one sentence on it that reminds
me to be conscious about my choices. It simply says:

“What thoughts am I wearing today?”

Amazingly powerful. I want to feel great about myself. I want to feel strong. So these are the thoughts I put on and boy does it make a difference. Try it and you will see

I am worth the best

Do you remember the L’Oréal ads tagline “Because I am worth it” ? This is my mantra at home, well everywhere actually. I deserve the best and so do you. The I am worth the best attitude I started when I was actually pretty low on cash and at a point in my life where I was recovering from a very bad breakup. I wanted a quick way to remind myself everyday how great I am. So I took the decision to buy only organic food. And believe me that was not easy on the food budget I had.

What thoughtsare youwearing today -Yet every time I saw the organic logo on my shopping, in my fridge I would think I am worth it. My body deserves the best. Even now 3 years later I have it. Today I don’t just keep it at food. I deserve the best and therefore my bed needs to be made so it’s a pleasure to return there at night, therefore eating dinner at a laid table with glasses not plastic bottles, and a candle or two decorating it reminds me every day I am worth the best. Its these small things that show me and the world and the universe that I have a high quality of life and I love myself.

What is the best for you? What shows you you are worth the best? Have a think about it and form to 2 new little habits this week to remind you that you are worth it.

Your home reflecting the quality of your life.

Now take a good look around you (well once you get home or also at your personal space at work).  How does your home, your car, even your wallet reflect how you think about your life?

Is it organised and cosy or chaotic and depressing? I am by no means a neat freak.( Since childhood my floor has passed as a wardrobe and my mother will probably howl with laughter when she reads this next piece of advice and wonder where her daughter has gone.) However almost 20 years ago I read something which has stayed with me always. Quite simply that if you tidy up on the outside then you tidy up on the inside as well. When we clear away mess and cobwebs we make room for new energy to come and fill the space. SO no matter how much I don’t want to do the house work I know at the end of it I will feel 10 000 times better and my life also feels happier.  But where to start.

First you write a description about how your dream home will be. Now compare it to your now home. Chances are some of the things you described are already there- yay go you! So now you just need to work on the other parts. And usually that means clearing out. Start with your wallet, then your bag, then one cupboard and the next until everything has had a cleanse out and you feel lighter. It’s amazing how much stuff we keep that bogs us down and wonderful the feeling of release to let it all go and give it away. Or even sell it if you can.

Now have a look around at your home again and have a great think about in each room
how you can reflect your love for you in one place. Quality.jpgMaybe it’s a painting, a quote on the wall or even a notice board.
A chair set up just for you to read and drink tea. A crafting corner. Your kitchen reorganised to suit your new dietary needs (and if you have been clearing out properly there will be more space with less plates etc!) A pamper station in the bathroom or even just a set up in the house that makes morning routines a bit easier will go a long way to you feeling good about yourself and loving your life right now, right this minute.  Be inventive (or use pinterest as I do for inspiration) and have fun with this. In a way you are feng shui-ing your own home in harmony with your own chi (or flow of energy) it is all about you showing yourself and the world, on a very large scale, that you are worth it!

Just think how great you will feel about yourself when you post the pictures on Facebook or invite friends and family over in the future and they compliment you 😉

 

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Take up the self love and life quality reflection challenge this week and begin building in your own time and tempo the strong foundations of a life when your outer world reflects your inner world in a positive and inspiring way where you have created space for you to love yourself, the look that tells people how wonderful you are and cleared the space for you to focus on quality not quantity in your everyday world.
Let me know how it goes by writing in the comments below. Have a wonderful week of self love and enhancing the quality of your life, until next time enjoy the journey <3

How is your life going right now? One off life quality assessment and coaching this spring (2 min read)

I want to ask you all 3 important questions :

  • How is your life going right now?

  • Are you on top of your game with a balanced, successful and sustainable lifestyle, or can you sense that the quality of your life is not quite the way you would like it to be?

  • When did you last check in with yourself to find out?

For me having the life I love means a balance between the 6 main roots of life

Personal health

Financial security

Loving supportive community

Effective success

Relaxation opportunities

Inspirational input

 

I have developed a holistic way for you to check in with yourself, assess your quality of life right now and identify the areas of your life that need transformation so that you can easily  create the life you love.

In May and June I have 10 one hour skype coaching sessions available for you to have a holistic life quality assessment. In a one hour skype coaching session you will

  • Receive an assessment of  the current state of your life’s quality

  • Gain insight into what is the perfect life for you

  • And receive an implementable  strategy you can begin using straightaway to transform your life.

These 5 one off life quality assessments coaching session will only available in May, June and July 2017 and cost £40/ 400 dkk / 54€ . So if you want to check in with yourself and the direction your life is taking this spring then email me to arrange your life quality assessment session.

I really want to help as many people as possible have a life they love so please share this mail with your family, friends and colleagues or even the random person you meet on the bus.

We all deserve a balanced, successful, sustainable quality of life it’s my job to help you have that.

Looking forward to hearing from and meeting you soon

Enjoy your journey <3

Much love

Emma-Jane

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