“The absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” — The art of hygge
Hygge is a Danish word that has a hard time being translated into the English language, due to the fact that it means more than just one word. Hygee, in an overall sense means, “pleasures we associate with everyday living, relaxing with friends, enjoying good food, and creating a cozy evening by lighting a candle or two.” If you wish to give it one word that it translates to, it would be, “cozy.” Denmark is located in the northern region of Europe, it is part of the Scandinavian countries; not only that, Denmark is rated as the #1 Happiest Country in the world. Why? Because of hygge. They enjoy the greater things in life: spending time with family, baking delicious healthy foods, minimalism, and spending time by the fireplace with a good book and tea. It is no wonder why they are the happiest people in the world.
For years I have incorporated this type of lifestyle into my own life without even knowing it. The thought of just living a simple cozy life has always drawn me in, spending the evening eating delicious meals made from scratch, drinking tea, and spending time with loved ones while playing games is what I have always gravitated towards, even though I am introverted. In a sense, this is embedded in my DNA; for I am part Scandinavian from both parents, Norwegian from my dad, and Finnish from my mom. It is not only the Danish people who have incorporated hygge into their lives, it is the entire Scandinavian region that has as well.
So, exactly what is hygge? How do you explain it? It is not easy to explain it, but I can give you a scenario of what it would be like. Imagine this, you are at home and it is either snowing or raining outside. While you can see and listen to the sounds of the snow or rain from your window, you are inside your home, on the couch in your comfortable pajama’s, covered by a blanket, sipping on tea with a friend of yours sitting next to you while the both of you are watching Doc Martin on the television as the fireplace crackles throughout the night. That is hygge. That is comfort, the kind that you feel safe and snug inside your home. Now keep in mind, hygge is not only incorporated during the winter time in the Scandinavian countries, it is incorporated all year round. Here are some tips on how to hygge all year round (in no particular order):
Invest in Candles – Candles are a big thing in hygge in Scandinavian countries. They bring the warmth, the incense, the comfort into the home and create the atmosphere where everyone can enjoy the night time, all the while spending time with a loved one. There are numerous scents that you can choose from, choose the ones that you find soothing and would enjoy during the entire time; don’t get a candle just because everyone else picked that one out, if you don’t like it, then don’t get it.
Texture – A nice knitted blanket or fuzzy pillows will help set the atmosphere even a little higher with the candles and warm fireplace/ heater.
Loungewear – Who doesn’t enjoy a nice set of pajamas that you can lounge in around the house while you watch a movie or show, or even read a book? Having a set of pajamas that will keep you warm while you relax. They do not need to be expensive.
Friends – You can hygge alone, however, when you hygge with friends, it creates a different atmosphere. One where you can just relax at the kitchen table and play a board game or in the living while you watch a movie or television show; having a great time with them, all the while you are hunkered down in the house staying cozy.
Hobbies everywhere – Hobbies are great to do when you hygge; sewing, knitting, reading, painting, are all great when you want to just focus on the mind. Turn off the television and pick up a book or something else, and just relax your mind while you are enjoying solitary for a couple of hours.
Do not rush – Everyone in this country (USA) is all about running around thinking that they need to be somewhere at that very instant or thinking about the next thing that they need to do. So stop, just take some time and hygge. Take a deep breath and enjoy this time to refocus your mind, your body, and your soul. Get back to where you are supposed to be and just enjoy this moment.
Never overdo hygge- It is not about setting a ten course meal for you and your loved ones coming over, it is not about hosting some extravagant masquerade ball in the middle of your backyard. It is all about creating a warm and inviting atmosphere where everyone can just relax and enjoy each other’s company. Have some warm soups and open-faced sandwiches while you enjoy playing a board game with your company next to some candle lights.
It isn’t just for winter – Like I said before, hygge isn’t just for the winter time. In fact you can practice it all year round. Spending time out in the park with a book and a cold beverage is a perfect way to hygge, just as it is in the fall time when you and your friends head over to little cafe’s and just enjoy each other’s company. Hygge is all year round, not just for winter.
A friend of mine is from Denmark and still lives there to this day has said that you use all of your five senses to “absorb the joy in the simplest things”. And she is correct, the simplest things in life are far more priceless and more valuable than the $6,000 clutch that could possibly be used as a paperweight.