Hygge (pronounced hyoo-ga or hoo-ga) has been all over the media lately. Perhaps you have heard about it from Facebook or another blog. It is a Danish word that has no English translation. In essence, hygge means coziness, comfort, togetherness and savoring small and precious moments.
Cozying up with a good book by a fireplace is hygge. Taking a bath with candlelight is hygge (in fact, Danes love their candles and consider them to be a symbol of hygge. You can find them at home, at work, and even in schools.) Making a homemade meal to share with loved ones or boiling water for tea is hygge. By now I hope you’re cozy at home with a cup of tea in hand and feeling very hygge-inspired.
The Danes believe that small acts of hygge every day (or turning every day moments into hygge) is the reason that Denmark is once again been ranked as the happiest country in the world. Hygge is not a new concept in their country, but it has been getting a lot of recent attention around the world.
According to neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson, author of “Hardwiring Happiness,” savoring positive moments of happiness create neurological connections in the brain. Over periods of time and through repetition, we form strong connections in the brain that increase our base level of happiness. Savoring the moment is what hygge is all about. America, I think we should take notes.
Here are some ways that you can enjoy the benefits of hygge right now:
Spend more time with the people who make you happy. Make time for those who matter most. Prepare a home cooked meal and invite a group of friends. Eat with the lights low and the candles lit. Host a game or movie night. On nice days plan for a hike or picnic with your closest friends. Although hygge is often associated and appreciated most during the cold winter months, the Danes hygge all year long.
Your home is where you should feel the most comfortable. Keep the lighting low and warm with nicely placed lamps or candles. Remember to be cautious with candles, especially with small children or pets. Danes prefer white non-scented candles.
Remove the clutter and clean the mess. You don’t have to be a minimalist to enjoy a stress-free living space, but remove what is not necessary.
Think cozy: throw blankets, fluffy pillows, a comfy share, or a lovely little reading nook.
Strive to find work-life balance. Life is never truly balanced and it tends to tip back and forth, but one of the best parts about hygge is that you know what to prioritize. Know when to turn off the cell phone and cut back on television. Try resisting consumerism and appreciate what you already have. By spending less you will be less stressed about money, you’ll have more time doing what you love, and you may find that you do not need to work as many hours.
Most importantly, savor every bite of every moment. Appreciate the simple moments of pulling on a pair of fuzzy warm socks, the feel of a nice blanket on a chilly morning, a good hug, a warm beverage in your hands, the taste of fresh fruit.
Hygge is not about avoiding the ugly or unhappy parts of life, but about appreciating the good in spite of them.
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