Hygge is about what makes us happy, what makes us feel open hearted and alive.

For years I have wanted to piece together a collection of happiness lists – lists of what makes each one of us happy, lists of those things we love. I want to create a site where we can share our handwritten lists.  Simply presented, adding nothing more than our name, our age and our profession. I can see them pinned above the seats on the underground or on the wall of a bus shelter.

I know our rhythms and priorities change from day to day but each one of us knows the the small everyday details and simple pleasures that always enrich us, make us feel fortunate and whole.  Our lists are poetic. They are unique. And they are worth sharing.

Here’s mine (cut and pasted, for now, from an old Appleworks document). Reading through it made me smile:

I love red peppers, cow parsley, family, my children, stillness, friends, spirals, skulls, jade green, bare feet, open fires, street art, clogs, tails, crochet, food, the sea, trance, Africa, orb webs, Rowan trees, coffee, Mary Oliver, drumming, snail shells, Gerard Manley Hopkins, community, growing things, graffiti, the smell of new books, the smell of old books, ferns unfolding, photography, vanilla, rain on Lupins, Denmark, the moment before sleep, a kestrel slope soaring, allotments, fennel, rosaries, the seasons, dark chocolate, lying spoons, sunshine, tribal bellydance, the smell of wild honeysuckle, flea markets, fonts, Roger Deakin, simplicity, candlelight, disco balls, bones, beach combing, hygge, walking the dogs, dawn, dusk, vintage textiles, cats, Ash trees, collective nouns, ritual, children’s art, tides, home, a blank sheet of paper, Rosa Rugosa, Konrad’s hands, bonfires, freewheeling downhill, shrines, window seats, smooth stones, hag stones, orchids, wooden crosses, ground glass beads, geese in flight, notebooks, charcoal, jasmine, sex, fairy lights, hearts, earth, hot baths, dark cinemas, night walking, heavy blankets, holding hands after school, modernist architecture, cadmium red, poems on the underground, the smell of cut grass, spinning tops, sheepskins, honesty, the words drift, parched, naughty, nincompoop, yield, crepiscule, stop, kiss and coalesce, Polaroids, biros, hot water bottles, totems, Autumn, Tate Modern, dappled light, candlesticks, oil paints, carrot cake, outsider art, red wine, bell tents, lanterns, Cy Twombly, Christmas Eve, rosemary, hand stitching, flodeboller, AfrikaBurn, bed.

 

 

Happiness lists
Posted by Louisa Thomsen Brits on 1 October 2012

 

I spent the summer in a state of entanglement. Bindweed has twisted itself around the roses. The dogs have been caught in burrows and brambles. We became embroiled in everybody else’s dramas and plans with no time to connect, to rest and read, to slow down.

My yarn and cabin were neglected, sitting in shadow beneath the trees.  By the close of summer, we were taut with fatigue and our little girl’s hair was so tangled we had to cut out thick dreads.

When I allowed myself to be convinced that I should become an ‘authority’ site, not a simple blog, I ended up with an illogical mess between two web platforms. I had only wanted help with SEO. But, it got me thinking about the purpose of the internet.  And about greed.  My conclusion is that it’s easy to lose our integrity here.  It shouldn’t be about self promotion but connection.

Today, possibly behind the curve, I discovered Theron Humphrey’s This Wild Idea.  http://thiswildidea.com His journey, (across America meeting a new person everyday, for 365 days) and his tender photographs and simple interviews transformed my day.  This man has got it right – he is forging real connection, telling people’s stories, celebrating the beauty and honesty of their everyday lives.

 

Disentangled
Posted by Louisa Thomsen Brits on 24 September 2012

When our children were babies, I didn’t often have time to read. So I kept myself afloat with snippets of poetry. Through those often lonely, early morning feeds, I would balance their small, warm bodies in one arm and a book in the other.

This summer I didn’t have time to write.  So I kept myself sane with the instant pleasure of digital photography and Instagram. The opportunity to see the texture of so many other people’s lives has been a privilege. It could be addictive.  Here are a few pictures from my feed.  I’ve put a link, above, for you to see the rest on line and discover more of the generous and creative Instagram community.

 

 

Snippets
Posted by Louisa Thomsen Brits on 19 September 2012

Behind a wrought iron gate, just beyond glossily renovated King’s Cross, is a small nature reserve.  On a mound of grass, looking down on low wooden buildings and the canal, The School of Life had laid out green and white tablecloths beneath a blue bell-shaped canopy. We were meeting to enjoy, ‘rich conversations about things that really matter in life’ inspired by the ideas of Henry David Thoreau and led by Neil Ansell – author of Deep Country.  Like Neil, our evening was unpretentious and memorable.

For five years, Neil Ansell lived in an isolated hillside cottage in Wales to learn how to be alone and find out just how little he needed in order to lead a fulfilling life. Neil’s experience of solitude and the natural world that he shares in Deep Country didn’t breed the kind of introspective thought that Thoreau shared over 150 years ago.  Alone, Neil found no need for identity or for self-definition. The thread of his own story became so subtly woven into the countryside around him that it almost disappeared.

His book flows from one moment to another. Like the hawks he quietly observes, it soars, circles and rests with an easy, natural rhythm.

His days were spent outside, led by the seasons and the inevitable cycles of nature and not the, ‘requirements and expectations of others’.  He invited us to imagine taking time out of life to slow down enough to reach a state of attentiveness, ‘a state of being free of thought’.

In Deep Country he says, “My attention was constantly focused away from myself and on to the natural world around me. And my nights were spent sitting in front of the log fire, aimlessly turning a log from time to time and staring at the flickering flames. I would not be thinking of the day just gone; the day was done. And I would not be planning tomorrow; tomorrow would take care of itself. The silence outside was reflected by a growing silence within. Any interior monologue quietened to a whisper, then faded away entirely.”

His message and his stillness were a contrast to our sociable chatter.  But our evening was about both exploring solitude and sharing our thoughts. The School of Life is adept at creating the kind of casual intimacy that makes it possible for complete strangers to gather in a tiny pocket of wildness at the heart of a buzzing city to celebrate each other, the determined, delicate presence of nature and the delicate bonds that bind us all together.

With a glass or two of wine, we began to lose our inhibitions. A black cat sidled about. People cycled past on the towpath. The sun went down. Candles were lit in old jars. Neil read from his book. We leaned towards him to listen.

I think we all felt enriched by the evening we spent together; enlivened by the enthusiasms we reflected in each other and by the possibility of retreat from our busy lives.

I began to think about my long train ride home.

When it was time for Neil to return to conventional life, he carried a core of peace with him and the knowledge that he would, “always value those brief snatched moments of calm that can be found in any life if you look hard enough for them”.

 

The School of Life: http://www.theschooloflife.com

Neil Ansell’s Deep Country: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Country-Years-Welsh-Hills/dp/0241145007

Simplicity
Posted by Louisa Thomsen Brits on 20 August 2012