Have you heard of hygge?
We could all use a little more of hygge. (If your tongue struggles with this uncommon string of letters, that’s because the word is Danish in origin. Some pronounce it “hoo-gah” and some pronounce it “hue-guh”) But what is this hygge, and how do you hygge?
Wikiapedia tells us hygge “is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” It can’t be denied that American life is often so focused on hustle culture and ambition for success that the idea of hygge strikes one as a memory from long ago — and an immediately desirable concept. The upheaval of 2020 and being confined in our places of residence may be just the setting for a welcome change: learning to cultivate hygge in our lives.
Alex of the website HyggeHouse.com sets up her own corner of hygge on the internet, defining it since 2004. “Danes created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark and sameness,” Alex tells us. “The undefinable feeling of hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate, acknowledge and break up the mundane or harsh. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of lighting a candle and enjoying a cup of coffee could make a huge difference to one’s spirit.” Who couldn’t use more hygge with the winter months nearly upon us?
How do we hygge?
Meik Wiking emphasizes that hygge is a feeling rather than a definition, and Wiking happens to be the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and an author on matters of hygge. Topics of happiness and hygge are interlocked, and he sets out to explain this in “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets To Happy Living.”
Hygge is in soft lighting and intimate conversation. Hygge is in warm down covers on a frosty morning or a crackling fire and a cup of cocoa. Hygge emphasizes the warmth and comfort in simple elements, but married with a sense of security and safety and being present for the joy of those moments. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things,” Wiking emphasizes — this is not about shopping therapy or buying your way into hygge, but of feelings of comfort material things are capable of supporting and supplying. Hygge aspires to be cultivated into every part of life, so even the every day mundane is elevated into a ritual of comfort and care.
We chase hygge by:
- Spending an afternoon to read a favorite book
- Napping in front of a fire (or maybe just napping!)
- Lighting a candle on a winter’s night
- Wearing your favorite sweater
- Inviting your friends over for a casual lunch on a bright sunny day
- Walking near the blustery ocean side inside your puffiest jacket
And maybe, just maybe, spending a little too much time browsing Instagram by moonlight during the dark, night time hours.