Hygge – Do what the Dane’s Do!

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming or special.   Even though this word is really hard to say it seems that people like having this recipe for a happier life.  In fact, hygge, was chosen by Oxford Dictionaries as one of their Words for the Year 2016!  Hygge simply requires being present and recognizing a moment that feels so sweet, cozy, charming, special or nice that you just have to name the moment.  So whether it’s making tea a verb by creating a ritual of making it every morning to a cozy evening in with friends where you’re just enjoying each others company to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.

It basically describes an ultimate feeling of coziness and relaxation. Since Denmark has been named the Happiest Country in the World, several times over, the rest of the world has been left wondering what makes the Scandinavian country so special. The answer? Hygge! (Along with, you know, free health care, education, and other social benefits.)

Hygge is also really a form of escapism. It’s about giving yourself a break, and retreating into a familiar, comforting bubble — and that’s anything from small gestures like lighting candles or drinking tea, to bigger ones like having a leisurely dinner with friends. With the world being particularly insane right now, it seems only natural that people would like the idea of a safe space away from all of that.

Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as coziness, charm, happiness, contentment, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

Danes created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark and sameness and the undefinable feeling of Hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate or acknowledge and to break up the day, months or years. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or a home cooked evening meal with friends can make a huge difference to one’s spirit.

By creating simple rituals without effort {such as drinking a glass of wine in a crystal glass to keeping fresh flowers on the table} the Danes see both the domestic and personal life as an art form and not every drudgery to get away from. They incorporate hygge into their daily life so it becomes a natural extension rather than a forced and stressful event.

Hygge is about being present enough to recognize and acknowledge an act, moment or feeling when the ordinary feels extraordinary.

So go make your ordinary day, extraordinary through recognizing simple moments and trying to have slow life lifestyle in a busy world.  Meik Wiking wrote “The Little Book of Hygge” if you want to pick it up for some inspiration and guidance.  Or just list those things you find happy and cozy and start there.  You might also check out the Happiness Research Institute!


I’m going to plan a week of hygge!  Join me.




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