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What is hygge?
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What is hygge?

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I can’t remember the first time I learned about “hygge,” but I do remember that I initially associated it with staying cozy in the winter with candles, hot drinks, wool socks, fluffy blankets, chocolate, and cake, lots and lots of cake. It wasn’t until I visited Copenhagen when I found myself practicing hygge like a Dane that I realized hygge are all those things and SO MUCH MORE.

What is hygge? For people who have never heard of this term before, hygge is being cozy, comfortable, and safe wherever you are, whether with friends or alone. Hygge helps us control stress and create happy moments by being present and appreciating the little things in life. While hygge can look like snuggling under an oversized blanket, it’s also so much more than that. Hygge can be crushing it at your workout today and spending the next day volunteering at your local community center. Hygge can be hiking through the woods while breathing in the fresh air and the smell of nature. Hygge can be spending all day reading at the library or pulling out weeds in your garden. Hygge can simply be getting enough sleep. Hygge is anything that creates a sense of comfort, coziness, and safety. Hygge is about what YOU need right now and prioritizing self-care and self-love before anything else because we need to start caring for ourselves.

Hygge is often used to represent how Danish people spend their winter. They create a warm and comfortable environment for themselves with candles, lots of them. But the thing about hygge is that it’s not just about keeping cozy in the winter; hygge is practiced all year round. It is spending a quiet moment with loved ones at the end of a busy workday, with digital devices turned off. Having friends over for a candlelit meal in the backyard. Connecting through pleasant conversation over hot cocoa by the fireplace on a rainy night.

How do you pronounce hygge? Each person pronounces hygge in their own manner. The most common pronunciations are “hue-gah” and “hoo-guh”. Some like to pronounce it “hugge” because hygge is like a hug for the soul. You can pronounce it however you want, and no one will question it.

Why is hygge so popular? Year after year, Denmark ranks in the top five of the annual World Happiness Report, and hygge may be the reason. Hygge is respecting your physical self, nurturing your mental self and investing in your future self.  Time and time again we ignore the warning signals our bodies send us and push ourselves to the absolute limit. This is totally understandable. But all the excuses in the world don’t make it okay. Find what feels good for you and treat your body like the valuable resource it is. Relationships are also a big part of hygge because it keeps our minds healthy, safe and happy. Nurturing your relationships and building strong bonds is one of the best things you can do to take care of your mental self. Hygge is also about caring for the future like our planet. Earth provides us with everything we need so, it makes sense that when we care for the planet, we are also caring for ourselves, particularly our future selves. Remember that caring for the planet doesn’t have to be all or nothing. No-one can do everything exactly right. Just start by doing something – little things, big things, whatever you can manage – to reduce your environment impact.

One of the biggest barriers to hygge is time. Sadly, there is no magic fix to find more than 24 hours in a day – and the old get up at 5 am is just plain unhelpful for most of us. Realistically, to make time for your hygge, you will need to be both ruthless and creative. Ruthlessly cut out unnecessary activities that drain your time and energy. And be creative in finding time for hygge in and around the other aspects of life.

In 2020, we rediscovered the comforts of home and revived relationships with family and friends. Realizing that safety, happiness, and comfort are paramount and finding contentment even in simple things, people and experiences have revolutionized our thoughts and behaviors. Intimate conversation and entertainment were devoid of debates surrounding politics, the economy, religion, or the best ways to raise our children. Instead, we expressed kindness, gratitude, and inclusivity.

Ultimately, hygge is tuning in to your mind and body and respecting what you find there. Hygge is anything you do that will create a sense of comfort, coziness and safety. Stress has been incorporated into our daily lives. It affects our way of life and productivity. People wonder what is wrong with them, why they don't feel happy and satisfied. Well, hygge just might be the solution.

The practice of hygge is contagious: one step in the right direction will lead to more. Committing to a hygge lifestyle has the real potential to make you happier, healthier, and more closely aligned with the life you want to lead. Go ahead and do something nice for yourself today without feeling guilty about it. Happy people are kinder people. So indeed, it wouldn’t be overreaching to say that hygge is the #bestlifestylechoiceever.