Maybe it’s the number of bestselling books, magazine articles and radio programmes on the subject, or maybe it’s the sheer absence of it in our house at present (our boiler’s kaput)…for whatever reason, ‘hygge’ has been on my mind recently.
In fact, hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is so in vogue that it was short-listed for the Oxford Dictionary word of the year 2016. The blogger Anna Lea West has offered “cosiness of the soul”as an English definition.
Originating in Scandinavia, and embraced by the Danes in particular, this phenomenon is thought to give some clue as to why Denmark occupied the top spot in the UN World Happiness Report in 2016 and why other Scandinavian countries consistently do so. While the rest of the world looks towards the secrets of Scandinavian living to improve their interiors, culinary habits and general quality of life, advertisers bombard us with warming images of candles, fairy lights, log-burning stoves and luxury throws. Meanwhile, I’m left wondering if there’s anything we can learn from hygge from a career perspective?
Work is where we spend a big chunk of our adult life, so experiencing this ‘cosiness of the soul’ in our workplace will hugely influence our happiness. Many factors influence career satisfaction – the role, the organisational culture, how much we get on with our colleagues, but work that matches our personality, strengths, motivations and interests is likely to keep us focused and reasonably contented. Richard Nelson Bolles author of the best-selling career manual in history ‘What colour is Your Parachute?’ says ‘The key to a happy and fulfilling future is knowing yourself. This self-knowledge is the most important component of finding the right career’
Personality tests can help us find out more about our temperament and how this relates to our career choice.
Good self-knowledge also helps us to be an effective team player – something valued by employers. Effective team working requires team members to co-operate, listen to each other, communicate clearly, share knowledge and be supportive of other members. To find out more about your team working preferences, check out Belbin’s Team Roles and see which you identify with.
Hygge often happens when you’re amongst people you can be honest with, where you don’t have to pretend to be anything other than who you are. Interestingly, graduate recruiters are increasingly moving towards ‘strengths-based’ interviews, rather than ‘competence based’ interviews – with a focus on what candidates ENJOY doing rather than what they CAN DO. Strength questions are designed to identify your motivation and values. With strength questions the interviewer wants to know who you are – the authentic you.
Having a workplace or study space where you feel comfortable and at home will increase your productivity. Whilst most of us have very little control over our working environment, making small changes can make a big difference to how we feel about our work space. Meik Wiking, author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute , says ‘Hygge definitely manifests itself in the offices in Copenhagen. In our offices we have sofas and comfy chairs, art on the walls; it’s rare to have an office that’s sterile and white’. A typical Scandinavian working environment ditches strip lighting in favour of natural light and is filled with plants, soft cushions and the sweet aroma of artisan coffee.
Let’s embrace hygge in our careers and see if we can push Scotland up the rankings in the World Happiness Report 2017!