In this month’s box we have been exploring Number 2 on the Hygge Manifesto – Presence.
I really feel this is an important part of a full life. I started to do things which enabled me to be fully in the moment years ago when I realised that I spent a lot of time thinking about the past & it was making me unhappy. I think we can all get into mental habits which distract us & cause us to stop paying attention to now. This is not a healthy way to be whether you are distracted by the past or the future the present & its chance of happiness is passing you by.
The good thing about habits is that they can be changed. It takes time & hard work but it is worth it. Living in Peru really made me start to think about the habits I had formed & how I could change them. The people in Peru are very aware of the present & they take a lot of pleasure in spending time together, talking & sharing food. I realised I could learn a lot from that.
Over the years I have started a few practices which help me stay grounded in the present & one of my faves is photography. Looking through a camera lens can make people feel detached but for me that is not the case. I found that it makes me look at things from lots of different perspectives. I slow down, look for the light & look all around. Using different lenses allows me to literally see the world in a different way & enjoy the structures & landscapes of every small moment.
I particularly love taking shots of plants, trees & flowers. Walking in the woods is also one of my methods of staying present. I find them calming & fascinating & a great way to access my creative brain. I usually walk in the same places, visiting them again & again throughout the year. The photos have helped me gain a deeper understanding of the seasons & the weather. They also highlight the slower pace of life for trees & plants. They live a lot longer than us & their lives are on a different scale which we don’t notice most of the time. Taking pictures of the same trees year after year reveals this timescale in a magical way.
Doing these types of activities often leads to a change in everyday life. Being present starts to become the new habit so that when you are doing something pleasurable & spending time with loved ones you are fully there, appreciating life.
Presence can be a double edged sword of course because we can’t always be doing things we love & hard times happen to us all. During unhappy times we might not want to be present but I have found that it can help then too. You might notice a beautiful moment, a birdsong, someone laughing & take a tiny moment of pleasure from it even when in pain. Presence also helps us to be fully in touch with our emotions & we feel them for a reason. It may be hard but I think being present in difficult times teaches us things we might otherwise not have known.
When I met Gabby she made me realise that this way of being, is very Hygge. Taking pleasure in small things, great food, nature, friends & family, comfort & surroundings is what Hygge is all about. It is apparently what makes the Danes the happiest nation on Earth. Our May box had a number of activities to encourage presence & slowing down. Hopefully they have helped our subscribers think about the moment & appreciate it fully.