Though there are many ways to describe hygge, we see it simply as the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Family. Graciousness. Contentment. Good feelings. A warm glow. Certainly, hygge is intrinsic to the Danish lifestyle, but this feeling of well-being, so deeply satisfying and cozy, is something we all experience, each in our own way.
I feel blessed in so many ways that I often find myself thinking “what would my life be like without all of different these people in it?” Growing up in a small town in Canada, my mother and three of my grandparents were all foreigners. I think this influenced me to both crave exploring the world myself and cultivate relationships from people of varied backgrounds.
My sister-in-law is Danish and I accept this does NOT make me an expert on the cultural word of the moment, hygge (pronounced “HUE-gah”) , it DOES mean I have watched, learned and embraced what she has shown me over the last 12 years. She presented me last year with a book on hygge and I’d like to take a few moments to discuss why this Danish custom, in so many ways, should be how we embrace life and not just a passing trend.
Hygge began to noticeably gain non-Danish popularity a few winters ago. A quick search on Pinterest will garner thousands of results, normally photos of a warm winter scene with hot drinks, animals, soft lighting and books. With its focus on a cosy and present lifestyle, I can see why people have begun to gravitate towards it. Well-being is something we often overlook to a fault in our modern, busy lives. We are always plugged in, switched on and overly stimulated. We take our coffees to go, eat in our cars and read books on screens (OK, full disclosure, I do this too even when I’m in hygge-mode). All this rushing but for what purpose? Is it making us happier? When do we make time for ourselves? To nourish our souls and bodies as they should be?
Hygge is not so much a word as it is actions and feelings: switch off your phone, put comfortable and cozy clothing on, light some candles, light a fire, grab a blanket and book and relax. We need to take time for ourselves to reconnect with our deep emotions and push out the intrusions of daily life. Take a moment to sit and truly enjoy a hot drink with a piece of cake or pastry without guilt.
If you still struggle with what hygge would mean for you, think of it as taking time to not only ignore push notifications, but to not receive any in the first place. Why do we feel guilty when we switch off our phones? Why must we make dramatic announcements about how we are leaving social media to be happier? We should be able to do these things without explanation. That is hygge to me.
We should all thank the Danish for putting into writing the very thing we all need to be doing!
Now go turn your phone off and put the kettle on!
Photo Credit: Fotolia – Alena Ozerova, Jennifer Hart