In 2016 I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in nearly one sitting. Afterwards I got rid of most of the contents of my house and my house itself (Full disclosure: I was preparing to move overseas. Just hang with me here.) In 2017 my sister gifted me The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. I read it while snuggled up on my sofa with a blanket. Halfway through the book I paused to put on a pair of cozy woolen socks.
For those who are unfamiliar with KonMari and hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), I offer a brief introduction:
The KonMari method, created by professional organizer Marie Kondo, urges people to declutter by purging excess possessions and design a life that “sparks joy.” One of the hallmarks of the KonMari method is to hold every item in your hand and ask yourself if the item sparks joy. If the answer is no, get rid of it.
Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. His job is to study happiness, and it just so happens that Denmark is consistently tops the happiness charts commissioned by the UN. It turns out that Danes have been practicing hygge for years. Haven’t heard of hygge yet? Hygge is the Danish ritual of enjoying simple pleasures: comfort, good food, family, and friends. Wiking says, “Hygge is humble and slow. It is choosing rustic over new, simple over posh and ambience over excitement. In many ways, hygge might be the Danish cousin to slow and simple living.”
If you ask the internet, 2016 was the year to purge all possessions and 2017 is the year to fill your home with fur rugs, [unscented] candles, blankets, natural light, vintage things, and woolen socks. Both books are rife with opportunities for parody, but instead I’d like to find the bits of truth.
What these two books have in common is the shared value of making home a sanctuary and creating a joyful life. Minimize distractions. Clear the clutter. Surround yourself with things that spark comfort and joy. Home should be the place where we restore and recharge, a place where we prepare nourishing meals, and a place where we share that hygge feeling with others.