Lifestyle Medicine, Main blog page

Hygge – more than just cosiness, finding your tribe.

I usually write book reviews separate to my blogs but this week I thought I’d combine the two.

I’ve recently finished reading ‘The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well’ by Meik Wiking. This is an excellent easy-to-read book which explores what ‘hygge’ actually means, not easily being translated into a similar single word in the English language.

This book is however, provides more than just a description. Upon delving into the concept of Hygge Wiking explores the true essence of togetherness.

For those of you who are new to ‘hygge’ I like to take Wiking’s inspiration and too quote the great philosopher that is Winnie-the-Pooh ‘you don’t spell it, you feel it’! Hygge is intimacy, cosiness, a feeling of being safe, an atmosphere created when with those you love. It encompasses candlelight, cushions, cocoa and cosy company.


The hygge-filled season of winter is now upon us. I am sitting on my sofa, curled up typing with my fire going and candles lit. I love a hygge-setting!

The elements of this book which I enjoyed the most explored the social aspects of hygge and happiness. I thought I’d share some of these ideas.

Jim Rohn said, ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’. The importance of our relationships was shown by research done by The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen showed correlations with satisfaction of relationships and overall satisfaction of life1. moreover, the United Nation’s World Happiness Report showed that when basic living standards are met, happiness is dependent more upon our personal relationships than income1.

The most significant relationships are our close ones, where you feel understood and can openly share your thoughts and feelings and support each other. Wiking draws the analogy between this and hygge, they are one in the same.


Another powerful message I took from this book was the social setting appealing to introverts compared to extroverts. Introverts are usually more reflective and reserved. This is where hygge comes in! For extroverts the socialising typically seen at university, often involving multiple club nights and large events, is great. Introverts can find this rather overwhelming and less enjoyable than smaller, calmer gatherings where you get to know the individual more. It’s not more or less social either way, just different. Hygge can really suit introverts for socialising, a low-key, relaxing night in with a couple of friends chatting by the fire. This provides a great option for those of you who are introverts and want an active social life but don’t enjoy the loud, busy nights out that extroverts do. They can also become a compromise, which can be great if you’re an introvert and your partner an extrovert or vice versa. Socialising with the few friends you really want to engage and catch-up with in a relaxing environment can merge the needs of extroverts and introverts, making everyone happy.

This to me demonstrated the importance of finding your tribe. I personally enjoy the more introvert-style of socialising, dinner-parties, catching up with a friend or two over coffee, curling up on the sofa with my boyfriend at the end of a long working week. To really enjoy these activities, however, you need to have found people you really enjoy being with and feel connected to. I am so lucky to have this.


Finding your Tribe is one of the Blue Zone’s ‘Power 9’, evidence-based common denominators among the places in the world with the longest healthy life-expectancy2. Those in these communities were either born into or chose social circles that favourably shaped healthy behaviours.

Blue Zones research has shown that your friends can greatly impact your health. There’s a great and fun tool on the Blue Zones website which helps you to determine how your three closest friends are influencing your life, both positively and in areas which could be improved. If you’re interested, try it here.

Finding your tribe is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Social media has its negatives; however I honestly feel it can be great for finding like-minded individuals. If you’re having trouble finding your people in everyday life you can try social media. Other ways to engage with people you might connect with is to join a club, class or start a new hobby. It can be simple, a local yoga class, running group, religious community, new-Mum’s activities. Another way is re-connecting with people. Do you have anyone you really got on with in the past but just let your lives get in the way of catching up? Reach out and re-connect. Whatever it is, try it and you might find your tribe.

Emma x


  1. Wiking, M. The little book of hygge : the Danish way to live well.
  2. Power 9® – Blue Zones. Available at: (Accessed: 10th November 2018)

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