Hygge–pronounced “hoo-ga”–is a Danish concept that encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being that one experiences by enjoying the simple things in life. So it is just as much as an attitude or mindset as it is something that you do.
Put another way, hygge is “the art of creating warmth, comfort and well-being through connection, treasuring the moment, and surrounding yourself with things you love.” (Quote from The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg)
The Danish should know all about contentment and well-being as they are consistently rated as the happiest people in the world. And that is intriguing as their winters are cold and dark–something I can relate to living in Cleveland, Ohio. It seems as if we go through most of December, January and February with dreary and overcast skies. During this time, I miss seeing the sun and feeling its warmth on my skin and tend to fall into the wintertime blues.
Now that the cold weather is here, I decided to try hygge-ing to see if can help me embrace the unique aspects of the coming winter months. I’ve used a number of sources below to explain what it all entails:
Create a comfortable home. According to Lifehacker.com, “Reading a book by the fire with a hot drink is hygge. So is eating homemade baked goods while watching TV under a mountain of blankets. You can never have enough blankets, pillows, warm socks, hot drinks, or cuddling with your pet or significant other. Avoid large, empty rooms, as well as spaces that look cold.”
Light candles. According to Culture trip.com , “The Danes light more candles per head than anywhere else in Europe and it’s not hard to see why. The warm glow of a candle simply can’t be replaced by artificial lighting; it’s about creating an inviting atmosphere and developing a soft, kinder form of light that’s perfect for relaxing and socialising – two things the Danes do best.” The Danes use unscented candles, but any kind will do.
Visit with friends and family. “Companionship and friendliness are essential aspects of hygge,” says Lifehacker, “and the Danish believe maintaining strong social connections are good for the soul.
There are two ways to go about hygge-style gatherings. First, you can organize regular, relaxed meetups with friends or family at someone’s home with snacks, treats, and delicious drinks. Helen Russell, the author of The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country, suggests these gatherings are about nothing more than indulging and having a nice time. So invite your friends over, have some cake, coffee, cider, donuts, or whatever you like, and just spend time chatting in your cozy living room and enjoying each other’s company. The more often you do this the better.”
Get outside. Going for a long walk, even by yourself, is hygge. Enjoy activities that you can do only in the winter months…ice skating, skiing, sledding, building a snowman. Just be sure to dress warmly–jacket, pair of gloves, boots, hats, snow pants, whatever you need to feel comfortable for an hour or two.
Practice gratitude. An article in health.com reports that “Hygge and gratitude go hand in hand. The philosophy entails feeling thankful for the little things, like a bike ride on a beautiful day, or a cup of hot chocolate, or re-watching your favorite movie. ‘Research shows that people who feel grateful are not only happier but also more helpful and forgiving and less materialistic,’ says Wiking. ‘It’s all about savoring simple pleasures.’”
Make time to unplug and relax, especially over the holidays. Be kind to yourself and others. And remember, there is no wrong way to practice hygge–it is mainly about enjoying a good moment.
For a great article on hygge by the New Yorker, go here. The New York Times published a review on recently published hygge books here. One more nice post on hygge-ing can be found here.