"Hygge": The Danes' Key to Coziness

It’s a bone-shivering day, overcast and dreary outside. The woodstove is going, and you’ve just prepared a warm and relaxing chamomile tea in your favorite mug – a nice big one perfect for clasping with both hands. You settle into your favorite armchair, wool-socked feet curled up under you, and open up your book

This is “hygge.” Pronounced “hoo-ga” or “hue-gah,” the Danish term just doesn’t translate into English, or any other language, for that matter. The idea of hygge is most similar to coziness – a comfortable and secure feeling of ease, joy, and at-homeness. Hygge is being gentle and kind and well with your self; it is caring and nurturing for the mind, body and soul. It is enjoying life’s simple pleasures: family, friends, good food and drink, a sunset, a comfy bed, lighting a candle at dinner…

Hygge is a lifestyle, and it is embedded in the warmth and togetherness of Danish culture and tradition. Hygge is understood, therefore, as the secret to the Danes being deemed the happiest people in the world. Tove Maren Stakkestad wrote: “Hygge was never meant to be translated – it was meant to be felt.” The word is unique to the Danish lifestyle, and not necessarily translatable, but it can indeed be interpreted and sensed in any place. Hygge can either involve gathering and sharing or taking a more personal moment for mindfulness. Either way, it’s feeling, a “vibe,” a sensation of warming tenderness and comfort that emanates from the inside out. Hygge feels GOOD.

And we all need more hygge in our life. In this fast-paced, technological world, cultivating hygge in your home (or in any space and with any object) can be the key to finding everyday “hyggeligt” (adjective form) peace and bliss.

• Create intimate, warm spaces – think cabin-y, nook-like cozy spaces with soft colors, fabrics, decor and angles.
• Light it up – add a candle or soft lighting to the center of a space to create a gentle and friendly feeling (avoid those harsh, fluorescent overhead lights!).
• Gather feel-good people – friends, family, animals, musicians, movies…anyone you love and want to cuddle!
• Feed on comfort food – give your tummy some hygge with homemade breads and pastries, a warm cup of tea, a craft beer, a hearty bowl of soup or porridge.
• Liven up with plants – a bit of green in any space freshens it up and gives it a more natural feel, not to mention cleans the air (if you choose the right plant!)
• Take in nature – appreciate the way a flower smells, the feel of the grass under your feet, the beauty of a sunrise or thunderstorm.
• Love yourself – give yourself time to nurture your soul with a good book, a new recipe, a paintbrush, a knitting project, a swim in a pond, or a hot bath.
• Be present – listen to what feels hygge, and do/eat/feel/experience what brings you the most comfort and inner peace.

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