My parents recently visited me in Los Angeles. They gave me a book called “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking which goes into great detail about how the Danish people find happiness through simple life pleasures. Hygge, pronounced HOO-GUH can be translated in different ways but one that resonates most for me is “taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things.” Being Danish myself, I began to contemplate how all of us can bring in more simple pleasures and soothing things into our day to day life in order to get back to basics.
We live busy lives. Los Angeles, although less hectic than New York city for example, holds a fast-paced energy that can often leave us feeling depleted and isolated. I believe there are things we can do to help us slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. Here are some important areas to focus on in order to experience increased happiness, pleasure, and simplicity.
Atmosphere – Our home and our work space is our haven. De-clutter regularly. Light a fragrance free, natural candle, curl up with your cozy, hand-knit blanket, put on your favorite relaxing music, turn down the lights, fill your home with photos and crystals, and freshly cut flowers in unique vases. Take a break from all electronic devices. Use an aromatherapy diffuser and create an atmosphere that feels serene, one that you look forward to spending time in daily.
Pleasure – What brings you pleasure? Perhaps it is freshly ground coffee, dark chocolate, home-baked cookies, steaming cocoa, a soothing bath with herbal oils, petting your dog or cat, taking an evening walk with your loved one, or reading a novel with a cup of tea. Paint, play an instrument, write a poem, or dance around your living room with the kids. Life is meant to be pleasurable. Stop postponing those things that make your heart sing.
Presence – Be here now. Being present is the key to strong and lasting relationships with yourself and others. Turn off your cell phone, remove distractions, listen more carefully, be the kind of friend for others that you want for yourself. Stop and smell the roses. Don’t worry about the future. Stop focusing on the past. Create a spiritual practice of yoga, meditation, chanting, or deep breathing that helps you to get more centered.
Gratitude – What if this is as good as it gets? Take it all in. Give thanks for what is. Make a daily list of what you have to be grateful for. Even the smallest of life’s pleasures can imbue a sense of deep gratitude if you allow them into your heart. It is okay to want more but never take for granted what you already have no matter how trivial it may seem. Sometimes the littlest gifts create the most lasting joy.
Comfort – Relaxation is key. Stop. Get cozy. Stay warm and comfortable. Dress in loose, soft, natural fabrics when you’re lounging at home. Wear handmade wool socks. Take time to curl up and read or watch your favorite romantic movie. Invest in plush pillows. Create your favorite go-to spot in your home to snuggle and hibernate.
Togetherness – While being alone has its benefits, building relationships is equally important. Creating a history with friends and family members and taking time to reflect on fond memories and adventures is the key to lasting fulfillment. Intimacy on all levels helps us to open our hearts and feel connected. Make an effort to book outings with friends and know that there is always room for more cherished, deep connections.
Harmony – Finding harmony and balance is important. Life isn’t a competition. You don’t need to try harder in order for people to like you. There is no need to boast or brag about your accomplishments. You are enough just the way you are. Work to create more balance and ensure that all areas of your life get equal attention.
Truce – Avoid drama. Find relationships that are easy. Don’t get into political debates or stressful conversations but instead take the time to nurture yourself and others. Be gentle, thoughtful, and sensitive to others needs as well as to your own. Remember that you aren’t always right even though your ego would have you believe otherwise.
Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com
He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, the 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!