Book Review: Meik Wiking on Getting Hygge with It

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I love the fact that one of today’s buzzwords, hygge, is not only Danish, but also that it has no direct English translation (kind of like the Swedish term fika, which I attempt to explain here). At best, we define it as the “art of being cosy”.

In fact, the Swedes have a similar word, lagom, which is closely (but not directly) related to hygge and it means roughly “just right”. The literal translation doesn’t really do the concept justice- it’s a word that’s often used to illustrate the Swedish way of life as well. It’s the idea of getting just enough of what you need in order to achieve satisfaction in life. It’s not a new idea: the mantra of less-is-more is a common thread across Scandinavian cultures and can be found outside of Europe as well. (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, anyone?)

Considering we live in a culture of consumerism and abundance, it makes sense that North American society would latch onto a concept like hygge. We spend so much time making sure our professional lives run like well-oiled machines that we’ve lost the art of relaxation.

It’s no wonder then that how-to-hygge guides such as Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge are popping up everywhere. We don’t know how to be cosy, and we need someone to show us the way.

Unfortunately, this new interest in making your life more hyggeligt (Danish for hygge-ish) is also a powerful way to tap into consumer trends. Someone sent me this article recently about the dark side of hygge, and how this trend has generated tons of new products and marketing campaigns designed to instill a fear of not being hygge enough- unless you have the right socks, blankets, candles, etc.

It made me hesitate when wanting to write about The Little Book of Hygge, which is too bad, because it’s one of those fabulous books that not only makes an for an interesting read, it also looks great on a coffee table. In fact, it’s one of those that I would revisit again and again, because it reads more like a celebration of the Danish culture and sensibility than it does an instruction manual.

For those who want to take it as such, however, may I direct you to my favorite chapter on achieving hygge on the cheap, which proves the concept is much more about creating an environment than it is buying one.

Hygge isn’t sold in a store. It can’t be achieved by buying the right socks, investing in nicer linen, or by reading any book about the subject that you can get your hands on (although I highly recommend The Little Book of Hygge).

Instead, if I’ve got it right, hygge is about finding the place within yourself where you can be at your most relaxed and natural. Surrounding yourself with the people and things that give you the most pleasure and joy is merely a conduit for getting there.

So go ahead and buy those socks if they make you feel freaking amazing. I think that’s just lagom.

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I love to read and I’ve made a promise to myself that every month I’ll read one non-fiction book that relates to my own self-improvement. I wasn’t paid or perked to promote any of these titles, although I do receive a small commission each time you buy a book through my Amazon store. Have a favorite that you’re dying to share? Send suggestions by commenting below. For more reading inspiration check out my Goodreads profile, or click here to read more about what’s on my bookshelves.

 

The Busy Girl’s Guide to Managing Your Health

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Working at a doctor’s office gives people the impression that you’ve received medical training the same as any nurse. I have to remind people over and over that I’m not a doctor, and I cannot give medical advice. But I have picked up a couple of useful tips that I wish more people knew about managing their own healthcare.

The biggest complaint I receive from patients is that they don’t know how to communicate with their doctor, and they often come away from their appointments with only a vague understanding of their problem. Even though you may feel like you’re being rushed, you need to speak up! You have a right to know and understand what’s going on with you.

You’re also allowed to do your own research although I urge you to proceed with caution- there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so take what you read on the Internet with a grain of salt. I don’t advise trying to diagnose yourself, but I do encourage gathering more background information so you can ask the right questions during your appointment. Your doctor might also be able to provide with a starting point in your research, or have access to resources that may be able to provide you with more information and/or support.

Managing your healthcare is really a collaborative effort between you and your healthcare provider (see here for more reasons on why this is important). They have the knowledge and experience to diagnose and treat ailments, and you have the working knowledge of your own body and mind to help decide what treatment is best for you. Should you take your doctor’s advice? Probably. But they don’t always have time and funding to do the legwork to seek out second opinions, treatment opinions, alternative therapies, or insurance resources you may need or want. Sometimes it’s up to you to take the reins.

Being an active and engaged patient also helps improve your relationship with your doctor. Be honest. Share things about your life. These are all important methods of communicating what’s going on with you, and it actually might make a big difference in the long run.

It’s also the nurses, pharmacists, therapists, counselors and support staff like myself that are assisting the doctors behind the scenes. The more they know you the better they understand what your healthcare needs are, and these relationships in turn might help give you insight into the inner workings of your particular healthcare system.

Going to a doctor’s office can be scary and intimidating- believe me, just because I work for a doctor doesn’t mean I feel any better when I see my own- but knowing what to anticipate, understanding more about the system, and building a working relationship with your doctor can hopefully lead you to a clean bill of health, as well as a sense of empowerment.

And that’s the kind of thing that in my job that keeps me satisfied.

KBwB-BFlower-50I firmly believe that the key to staying healthy is leading a balanced lifestyle. It’s something I’m constantly trying to achieve in my own life, and from time to time I like to share my trials and tribulations here.

Romantic Reads that Will Melt Your Heart

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Even at my most bitter and cynical, I have never been able to resist a good love story. I guess I’ve just always had the ability to look at the world through rose-coloured glasses. Romance novels indulge this part of my personality or at the very least provide me a means of escape when my outlook is looking a little less rosy.

Variety is key to keeping things spicy in a relationship; I feel the same way about the books I read. The occasional bodice-ripper has found its way into my collection once or twice, but these I kind of regard as one-night stands of fiction because they’re short and satisfying, and you’ll probably never read it again.

Other books featuring romances are more like long-term relationships: as you learn more about the characters your affection for them grows, and the more you become invested in their relationship.

For example, in his novel One Day, author David Nicholls chronicles through the history of two best friends whose timing never just seems to be quite right. The more we see their lives take shape over the years, the more we want them to be together. Oh yes, we do.

Other relationship stories feature protagonists that are slightly quirkier and less likely to be so intrinsically linked, like The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (whose lovable characters have spawned a sequel). In both cases, the reader falls in love with the people more than the actual love story itself, and it’s because of our concern for their well-being that we want things to work out so badly for them. If they’re lucky and things do work out, it feels like emotional catharsis for us.

If things don’t work out, it’s a different kind of emotional catharsis. For example, Claire Calman’s Love is a Four Letter Word had me sobbing by the end, as did The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (I still can’t bring myself to watch the movie.)

None of these books, however, moved me as deeply as The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It has got to be one of the most beautiful and devastating books that I have ever read. Every so often I found myself having to pause and look up from the page so I could soak it all in. What is it about forbidden love stories that makes them so enticing?!

It’s not hard to be enticed by romance novels, really- the desire to love and be loved is universal. All the heartache, the longing, the disappointment, the hope- we’ve all felt that way at one point or another in our lives.

No wonder Harlequin makes so much money.

Honorable Mentions

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is proof that love can exist after age 65.

This husband has a strange way of loving his wife in So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, but their relationship is still oddly touching.

If you’re looking for the kind of angsty, teenybopper romance that keeps you on your toes (will they? won’t they?) then you’ll love The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. There’s enough butt-kicking and smooching to keep you hooked through all six novels, and if that wasn’t enough for you, The Infernal Devices trilogy can be read as a prequel or as a stand-alone series (although trust me, you’ll want to read them all together).

KBwB-BFlower-50I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company. Full disclosure: I do receive a small commission from Amazon when you choose to buy from my site. It keeps this blog running and food in my dog’s bowl, but rest assured I would never suggest you buy something I wouldn’t buy for myself. Enjoy!