Quiet hygge

Forgive me friends – I’ve been suffering from a terrible case of naughty blogger syndrome, characterised by doing absolutely anything except blogging. Fortunately with a strong dose of real life and a birthday (25, how did that happen?), I’m fighting fit and ready to go again! I’m going to ease myself back in gently with a few thoughts about quiet hygge.

When I think back to my interview with Meik Wiking, there is one little snippet of the conversation my mind always drifts back to. It’s the part where we talked about how some people feel that hygge is for extroverts – after all, there is a focus on hygge with others, and togetherness is often considered a key ingredient in the hygge recipe. It genuinely surprised me to read that people felt this way in his book, as I naturally gravitated towards hygge as it appealed to my lifelong introversion. I thought about that a lot the weekend after I spoke to Meik, and it’s still on my mind now, so I’m going to spill some thoughts out into a post to talk about what I want to call ‘quiet hygge’.

Wine and beer in a pub in Clapham, London

Hygge and socialising

In my last post, I did a spot of mythbusting to set the record straight on some key misconceptions about hygge. One of the myths I busted is that hygge is antisocial – it’s certainly not. Hygge can be done alone or with others, and for many people, it’s ‘with others’ that makes for a truly hyggeligt time. But in my mind, it’s the kind of socialising that is made for introverts – it’s not about getting to know a massive group of new faces or making stilted smalltalk over canapés at a party. For me, hygge is about intimate social experiences which, importantly, take place with people we’ve chosen to be around.

I probably have about two hours of typically extroverted social energy in me. After that I start to flag and I can feel my brain getting tired, and I need to go and recharge for a while. But when I hygge, I don’t need to recharge at all. The company is someone with whom I can be quiet, and the silences aren’t awkward, but welcome.

Friends at Craft Beer Company pub, Brighton

Quiet, social hygge

For extroverts, this kind of socialising can be difficult to understand. For a lot of people it probably doesn’t feel a lot like socialising at all. My ideal ‘quiet hygge’ looks like a night at one of my best friends’ houses, eating a meal together and talking and laughing late into the evening. Bonus points if there’s a cute pet around waiting for attention and strokes, and of course we’ll have plenty of candles and fairy lights. These are small, intimate events – it’s not really a time for bringing new people into the mix, more just for relaxing with people we’ve known for 15 years.

Coffee and cake for fika

I’m also a huge fan of one-on-one hygge. This can be anything from a hot drink and a slice of cake in a cafe (fika!) to lounging around in comfy, ugly clothes watching stupid videos on YouTube. It can be a leisurely lunch with a bellini and a mound of freshly baked bread, or sharing a box of popcorn and whispering in the dark before a film starts at the cinema. It could be rummaging through fallen leaves for the richest, shiniest conkers (my number one autumnal activity) or walking home from the pub late at night with visible breath and coats pulled taut around shivering bodies. These aren’t activities for massive groups – it’s just about having quiet, calm, enjoyable conversation with someone you know well.

Keeping the noise down this winter

Crockery at Sketch, London afternoon tea

Now we’re in November (seriously, how on earth?), lots of us are looking forward to the party season. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Christmas parties (surprisingly, I love virtually all parties – I just do them introvert style). But it can be overwhelming when my calendar fills up at this time of year, so I have to be careful to schedule in some quiet time. It’s nice knowing I don’t have to say yes to absolutely everything I’m invited to, and it means  I enjoy the things I do choose to go to a lot more than if I burn myself out by doing everything.

If you’re like me, be kind to yourself and don’t over commit. I know what it’s like – you start worrying about how anti-social you must seem, but nobody wants a damp squib in the corner hating every minute of their delightful cocktail soirée. Just do what you can. And of course, if you’re all mulled, sequinned and partied out, do yourself a favour and have a night of guilt-free hygge. It’s the best possible compromise between all-out festive debauchery and bleak, lonely Dickensian winters. Invite a friend over, stick something delicious in the slow cooker, crack out the hot chocolate and turn that big light off while you’re at it. If nothing else, it’ll help ease your weekend-long hangover (just me?), and you can enjoy a peaceful, hyggeligt evening where you don’t have to endure awkward smalltalk. Everyone’s allowed a quiet night off to hygge sometimes.

Will you be enjoying some quiet hygge this winter? What are your favourite socially anti-social activities? Let me know – I’m always looking for inspiration!

PS – If you’re another introvert and want to better understand why you are the way you are as well as why that’s absolutely fine, I highly recommend Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s a thought-provoking read, and I find myself thinking about it often.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. sew vintage emporium says:

    I found myself nodding through most of this post. As a highly sensitive person, I often find myself yo-yoing between being with people and needing to be alone. I enjoy equally and crave both equally. There’s nothing quite like enjoying some me time in your slouchy pyjamas reading a book with a warm drink in a steaming bubble bath. On flip side I enjoy intimate bbq’s in the early autumn huddled around the fire with a mug of tomato soup or mulled cider. I guess for me hygge is that feeling of contentment deep down.

    1. I love an evening spent lounging in the bath! Now you’ve got me craving tomato soup…

  2. Anna says:

    Fika is one of my favourite Swedish words. In Norway we would normally use kaffekos (noun) to cover approx the same meaning.

    1. That’s a great word! 🙂 I can’t wait to come back to Norway soon to experience it for myself!

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