What is Hygge?
Hygge is Danish, “and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people” – per the Denmark tourism site. In my words, it’s a feeling, just like the words “cozy” or “warmth”, that evokes a certain emotion of happiness or peace. Or you could say, its a feel-good feeling that gives you the warm + fuzzies. FYI- it is pronounced “hue-guh”.
There are numerous books and articles written about this state of intimacy. One could summarize it as places, people or things that give us a sense of warmth, joy, and fill our soul, yet keep us grounded. But it is important to note that it doesn’t have a specific definition.
Why is Hygge important?
With so much focus on mental health + wellness, hygge is fantastic concept of practicing intentional living and well being. The reason it is becoming a buzz word, is that many of us live in a world where most things are taken at face value. Surface level. Two dimensional. So in efforts to try to improve our lives, to find more meaning and depth, we’ve been trying on new ideas to practice joy + happiness, in desperate hopes that we will actually feel more joy. Like when people use essential oils in their diffuser, or start putting fresh flowers on their sink, or fold their t-shirts a specific way.
But the joy actually comes from intentional living, being present, being mindful. It is the emotional connection of doing those things that is hygge. Starting to do things with that cozy, feel-good vibe in mind, will lead you to living with more intention. Living with intention = mental wellness
How to Hygge.
Let me start by stating that you can’t just DO “hygge”. Hygge needs to be evoked, or practiced, until it becomes a natural way of life. So the contentment and intimacy that comes with this romantic notion won’t be the same if you suddenly buy a candle, or have friends over for a night. It’s an energy that you can’t help but project into your every day life. You don’t just make the sauce or the cake, you make it with love. It’s embracing the moment or a memory. It is an intentional lifestyle.
How not to Hygge.
I hate to be the one to say it, but you can’t buy your way into hygge. Sure, I could easily recommend some candle scents, or the softest cardigan ever, but to truly establish this mindful living…the things in your home or moments in your life, need to be a curated collection that evokes emotion. The cozy blanket you found at your favorite store that every one fights over now. A ceramic mug your mother bought you years ago that you use daily for tea because it reminds you “Life is Beautiful”. The vintage Hermes scarf handed down from your great grandmother that you decided to frame as art instead. These are all things that add to your sanctuary of hygge, but they can’t be hyggelit without INTENT. So, if you’ve been reading a blog that suggests you buy a bunch of their recommended decor to make your home feel like “hygge” then you are missing the point. Put your credit card away.
Where do I start?
- cozy up with a coffee or tea in your favorite chair and read a book, or call an old friend.
- clean up the house (or don’t), put on your favorite music and light some candles. Relax and enjoy the ambience of your home.
- have your friends over for a dinner, like a pot-luck, or maybe even just take out. Catch up, and have deep conversations about life or tell dumb jokes. And laugh and be present and enjoy every minute. On Repeat.
- take a ride/walk to your local park with kids, family or friends and set up a picnic. Take notice of nature, the smells and the sounds around you. Just take in the fresh air.
- take a time out from work, from stress, from life. With a friend or family or by yourself. Just take up a day of tv watching, or reading, or a long drive somewhere. Take in the freedom, the lack of structure, lack of time keeping and the company.
- create a quaint garden or any space with several pots of plants, flowers and herbs, with a rocking chair or lounger. Leave a pair of soft slippers there.
- cook a family recipe together. Take your time, enjoy the conversation, find out where it came from.
Who am I to write this?
I came across a book about hygge one day online, and became very curious about this concept. After reading the book, I realized I was already practicing some of these concepts/ideas and I didn’t even know it. We had rented a house for many years and after the second year I just wanted it to feel like “home” so badly. But it wasn’t my actual home. So slowly, I purchased things to incorporate into our home that we enjoyed, and had purpose in our lives. After finally purchasing our own home, I ended up only bringing those items that really felt like our own. The ones with “meaning”.
With the new home, we took our time finding the “right sofa”, the “right” chairs, etc. We moved furniture around until it felt just “right”. So when the COVD-19 “shelter in place” happened, it wasn’t difficult for my family to shift into an at-home lifestyle. We had our favorite spots in the house to read, watch tv, or hang out. There was a place to play 2 hours of family Scrabble. We had the six blankets of coziness to make forts, or cuddle up when it rained. There was the creation station in the garage that allowed my kids to keep themselves busy. The strain of being at home was less of a mental challenge because we had such a happy sanctuary already built. I have been practicing living with more intention and it has helped my family’s mental wellness. I want you to be happy, and be well.
It is my hope that after reading this post that you are inspired to create a cozy environment for yourself and your family. And also incorporate moments or gatherings outside the home that fill your soul. Hygge is a great way to start living a more intentional life. The emotional connection to the moment, the thing, the people in your company, is exactly what hygge is about, and I believe is the best prescription for mental wellness. Free shipping included.
Here are additional resources to get started on intentional living:
30 day challenge – audible.com
John O’ Leary Live Inspired. Podcast
The Science of Well-Being Online Course