I was introduced to the word “hygge” (pronounced HOO-gah) last year, though I never really explored the word or concept until this month. I was able to spend a WONDERFUL weekend in a cabin with friends and they kept commenting how “hygge” everything was. (To my Scandinavian friends, I am no doubt not using “hygge” correctly in a sentence so please bear with me!) I loved the coziness of the cabin and so I wanted to get more info on hygge. Pinterest was helpful but so was the book, “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking.
So let’s get right to it, what’s the translation of hygge? While apparently it’s hard to directly translate according to Meik Wiking people consider it “cozy togetherness” or “taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things” or “cocoa by candlelight.” Still confused? It’s basically creating a cozy atmosphere that you want to be in, surrounded by folks you care about. As I understand it, it could mean dinner parties by candlelight (no cell phones allowed). Or cozying up with a book, drinking hot cocoa in a special mug, wearing your favorite comfort clothes (you would never wear outside) surrounded by soft light. Apparently twinkly lights or lamps without harsh light, and lots and lots of candles are a must. So far so good, right?
Have you ever seen a cafe or restaurant that’s instantly made you want to go in? Even if you’ve had your quota of caffeine that day, something in there will feel so tempting. The lighting is warm, they have comfy chairs and you know you will be able to write a pulitzer prize winning book in there, simply because of the atmosphere? Those places have hygge.
What I especially love about hygge is it doesn’t involve you spending any money. You can create a cozy atmosphere with the stuff you already have. Like using that mug you love so much and filling it with hot cocoa and loads of marshmallows. Going to the library and stocking up all types of books. Embracing your favorite comfy clothes and (if you’re in a cold climate) wearing some warm wooly socks. Leaving twinkly lights up even though the holidays are over. Lighting candles when you have dinner, making it feel special even if you’re eating hot pockets. Having cell phone free times, when you make a conscious decision to be present and not distracted by your phone. Having people over for potlucks or game night even if your house is not as tidy as you wish it was.
Hygge is permission to get cozy. I often hear people say, “I was so lazy this weekend I didn’t do a thing.” In a society that likes to check things off lists and prides itself on how much we can squeeze into a day, let’s give ourselves permission to get cozy. Notice I am not saying “lazy” but cozy. Creating coziness is an act of self care. What would happen to our mindset if we saw those moments when we were feeling like curling up as good for our soul rather than a reflection of our lack of motivation.
I also think something powerful happens when you are deliberate about creating coziness, it makes it special. When you have a weekend where you don’t do anything, if you want to create hygge, time isn’t getting away from you the way it does when you binge watch TV. Because while binge watching can have it’s merits, you can lose a whole day and not even notice because you weren’t present in the time you were inhabiting.
I don’t think hygge needs to be reserved just for the weekends either. This week I encourage to bring a little coziness into the other places you inhabit. It may be as simple as bringing a special tea to work, along with your favorite mug. Or switching off the fluorescent lights and turning on lamps instead. Or if that’s not an option creating some coziness after work when you get home.
Either way, the Danish are on to something. They’ve been consistently ranked as one of the world’s happiest countries for many years in row now. Here’s to a more hygge filled life!
Take care of YOU.