Anyone heard about the concept of Hygge? It’s been sweeping the photo scene and Insta scene for a bit, but right now it seems to bubble away largely away from the mainstream fads (which I am pleased about). But it’s a brilliant concept, feeling, idea…
Hygge is associated with acknowledging an emotion or moment of comfort, togetherness, and well-being – easily associated around winter time.
As Alex Beauchamp explains on her website:
Hygge literally only requires a conscious appreciation, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present. That’s why so many people distill ‘hygge’ down to being a ‘feeling’ – because if you don’t feel hygge, you probably aren’t using the word right.
How cool is that? It’s a Danish word and has been around forever.
Hygge is essentially about being aware of a good moment. It’s not asking for you to signpost it or flag it with a massive Instagram selfie, or that you force it upon yourself or anyone else. It’s just a thing that happens.
And you know what else – I never realised until I stumbled upon the hygge website, that I was actually experiencing it at least a few times a week (if not daily) but quite by accident. But now I know what it is, I feel like I appreciate those moments more. I buy flowers almost weekly, even during those times when I’m at my financially poorest as an actor. I love the feeling of walking into our living room first thing in the morning, Nespresso in hand (gosh – shakes head at the name dropping of a company who’s been caught out for being naughty in the past, but whose coffee is magical!), and seeing the flowers blooming on the dining table. It fills my heart with……well happiness. It’s a hygge moment.
Sitting and watching my little mini man squirrelling away at his busy baby business, fake pots and pans clattering about, cars and bricks scattering about on the floor, I often enjoy those first moments of the day more than any other. Why? Perhaps it’s hygge. Who knows. But it certainly feels like it.
I smile because I’m happy. I smile because I love that little baby. I smile because I love coffee. And I love our shared moment of just being present together first thing in the morning. It’s also one of the reason’s I am actually eternally grateful that I’ve found a way to live a life I love every day, rather than just on weekends or when “I’ve finished the day job” – as so many have confided in me and said they have and hate in equal measure.
Often I don’t busy myself with my mobile phone first thing in the morning. I do write my gratitudes because it’s become so much a part of my daily ritual that I feel naked if I don’t, but then I typically put my phone out of the way and ignore the latest what apps, FB notifications or Twitter counts beckoning me to leisurely graze over them. I just don’t need that first thing in the morning. If I do, it just muddles my head (especially social media) and I’m off on the wrong foot before I’ve even started.
These rituals aren’t anything profound, or particularly ground breaking. If anything they’re probably replicated by hundreds and thousands of other acting mummies around the world every single day. It’s just that the idea of hygge gives way to an appreciation of what I am doing, that is, of those moments of being present.
What’s all this hygge and gratitude chat for?
There’s a bigger reason for this explanation of hygge, and this talk of rituals and presence. If you’ve been reading B.A.B.E. for a while then you’re already fully aware of my take on being present, being off your mobile phone and switching off your notifications, and using meditation and gratitudes to feel more wonderful. I DIG THIS STUFF…I dig it in a big way.
However, I do not think that we should be unnaturally happy and I do not think that we should ignore our true feelings when things are shite.
As an acting mum I have the same ups and downs that any new mum has. I’m riddled with guilt when I don’t play with my child enough, I frequently wonder if I’m doing all the wrong things, I constantly feel there’s more to be done, and I’m always shattered. There are highs and there are lows. And sometimes those lows are very low indeed. And it’s important that I don’t ignore those feelings when I do actually feel completely crapola.
Susan David, at TEDWomen 2017, did a talk on the gift and power of emotional courage that I only watched a few weeks back. And boy did it hit me like a tonne of bricks. And because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, I knew I had to put pen to paper.
Susan shares her personal experience of her father passing away, as well as how she feels about owning your feelings. She talks about humans allowing themselves the right to feel crappy AND SPOILER ALERT – not to “have dead people’s goals”. She explores the gift of power and emotional courage in relation to work, health, raising a family and our underlying happiness. She challenges the viewer to consider that our culture is one where we prize positivity over emotional truth, and to consider if this might be to our detriment long term. Second spoiler alert – YES it will be.
I hope I haven’t screwed up as a coach, as well as a mummy!
After watching the talk, all manner of things went through my head. And the same things I mentioned above about raising a baby, came up again. And then I started to consider my role as a mentor.
As an acting coach I have the chance to help shape people’s careers in all manner of ways. And I don’t take this job lightly. I want to help and support each and every person whose path I cross. But I also realise that with coaching comes great responsibility. I can offer ideas and support and encouragement and honesty. But it should never detract from someone’s feelings, most especially when they are vulnerable, open, scared or upset.
On more than one occasion an actor has burst into tears during a session. Why? Because they’re open and vulnerable and in touch with their feelings. Because they want success so much that their raw emotions associated with that want or desire completely overwhelm them.
And this is such is a good thing.
When you need to cry, you really should cry. It’s been scientifically proven to help.
But then I started to think – OMG did I do that thing where I said, don’t worry it’s going to be okay. And gave them a virtual pat on their shoulder. I bloody hope I didn’t.
Because this won’t help them. If I glide past the vulnerable feelings they’re confronted with, they will too. And that is no good to anyone.
IF YOU GLIDE PAST YOUR FEELINGS AND IGNORE THE RUBBISH ONES, YOU WON’T HELP YOURSELF.
Sometimes in acting, everything isn’t going to be alright. Sometimes it is going to suck. It’s going to suck like a big fat lemon. And sometimes you can’t just cut that lemon up and make lemonade. Because that’s the fluffy perfect ending to a fluffy perfect ideal, that just ain’t realistic. That’s a MEME, not a real life moment.
Sometimes my toddler is going to be miserable. And I won’t always be able to fix that. I won’t be able to put a bandaid on his emotions and pat him until he doesn’t cry anymore. Babies and toddlers should cry. They should have tantrums, they should wail and let off steam.
Actors should cry, have tantrums and let off steam. Somewhere along the way, we all got confused with being mindful and grateful, and mixed that up with being happy 100% of the time – when it’s just not realistic!
“Somewhere along the way, we all got confused with being mindful and grateful, and mixed that up with being happy 100% of the time – when it’s just not realistic!
I would love to know what you think about the idea of being real and authentic to your feelings. And would love to know if you have ever broken down as an actor and lost it, and how that felt for you? Did you feel better after? Did life seem that little bit easier after? (I hope it did).
My hygge moments may not be your hygge moments, but I bet you have a lot of your own.
And my low points may not be yours either, but I bet we can connect truthfully and honestly if we shared those moments and didn’t try to pretend everything was always okay with a fake instagram post.
Share. Share it all. The highs and lows. It all helps us in life, with our mental wellbeing, and in recognising hygge in our own lives.
Oh and one last positive thing…. TODAY, 1st March, is NATIONAL HYGGE DAY! How cool is that.