As we head into the cooler months of the year, I have been sitting with the comparison of what makes us content versus what keeps us busy. One concept I really love is a term that the Danish/Nordic have coined “Hygge” (roughly pronounced Hoo-gah). While Hygge does not have an exact definition, Signe Johansen, author of “How to Hygge”, describes it as “A Danish/Norwegian word that translates as a feeling of cosiness. Hygge can also mean kinship and conviviality. If mindfulness is about the self and looking inward, hygge is about being sociable and looking outward; it’s about taking pleasure in the simple things in life, in fellowship with kith and kin.”
The Danes are some of the statistically happiest people in the world, despite their infamously harsh winters. Hygge is an integral piece of their culture. The more I read on, the more I realized that I have been craving this “back to basics” lifestyle, one where I can connect with friends and family and enjoy being in my environment and in nature. So how do we get there? What’s the secret? In my research, I continued to come across many themes of what it means to be more “hygge”. I will share some broad ideas here, but I encourage you to continue to explore this idea of “hygge” and its practical applications for your life.
- Hygge in Your Home. Some key elements of bringing hygge into your home are lighting lots of candles, having a fireplace, lots of cozy blankets and spaces, books, and a mug of your favorite hot beverage. Hygge tends to have more winter-related elements (probably due to the long winters in Norway and Denmark); however, there are ways to bring hygge to the home in summer. Have a backyard barbeque where you incorporate hanging lights and candles. Maybe have a bonfire where you make s’mores. The possibilities are endless.
- Hygge in Your Food. Hygge foods include foods that bring you comfort. For some people, that might mean meat and potatoes; for others, it might be a favorite soup. Baked goods are a big part of hygge culture, including cakes, chocolate, and (you guessed it) Danishes.
- Hygge in Your Apparel. If you want to dress more hygge, sweatpants and a sweater might be appropriate wear with a nice pair of wool socks. In the summer, hygge might look like yoga pants and a comfortable tee.
- Hygge is About Togetherness. While you can mindfully do many of these suggestions alone, Hygge is in large part about being together and building your relationships. You can find togetherness in sharing a meal, watching a movie, going for a walk, or doing an activity together. Hygge is not found on your cell phone, so put your phone down and be present! Whether you are in the home or not, there are many ways to connect with others. Some ideas are board games, potlucks, bowling, stargazing, hikes, trivia nights, and bike rides.
I hope that this has been a helpful glance into this concept. For me, Hygge combines mindfulness around your environment with the intentionality of cultivating connection. Please comment down below about ways that you enjoy bringing a little “hygge” into your life!