About a year ago, I began noticing the word “hygge” popping up on displays at libraries and bookstores, as well as on social media. I’ll be honest: initially, I didn’t give it a second glance! Writing it off as another “here today, gone tomorrow” fad, I paid little attention and went on with my life.
Eventually, curiosity crept in, though. Perhaps it was due to the fact that every time I came across the word, it bothered me that I didn’t know how to pronounce it?!
“I’ll look up the phonetic spelling,” I told myself, “just to get it out of my system.” One google search leads to another, and there was no denying it. Hygge (HOO-gah), the Danish concept of living an intentionally cozy life, was calling my name!
To learn more I turned to The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. I was delighted to discover that hygge is something I already valued and practiced even though I’d never had a specific label for it. I was also inspired to embrace the concept more intentionally and joyfully.
One of the first ideas that Wiking impresses upon the reader is that while hygge is not easily defined, it IS easily felt. It is knowing that you are safe. It is the feeling that you are home. It’s the confidence that you are loved and accepted.
Mamas, I don’t know about you, but some of my most cherished wishes for my kids are that they will always look back on their childhood as a time of safety, warmth, and love. For that reason alone, hygge has my heart!
Hygge looks different for different people, but there are a few common practices among the people of Denmark (some of the happiest people on the planet, according to the World Happiness Report!) that embody hygge.
6 Easy Ways to Practice Hygge
The good news is that these are EASY practices that can make a BIG difference in our quality of life.
- Light. Bringing a little more hygge into our lives can be as simple as lighting candles regularly in our homes, investing in lamps and light fixtures that are soft, warm, and inviting, and taking in as much natural sunlight as possible.
- Talk about it! It doesn’t matter if you call it hygge, coziness, or any other word of your choosing. But name it, and don’t be bashful about bringing the concept into your everyday vernacular. If something is highly valued in our lives we will talk about it. If we talk about it, we will be more intentional to embrace and embody it.
- Togetherness. While I often embrace hygge in solitude, there is nothing like being with people who love you best. While raising kids, I know we deal with daily squabbles and quarrels. It can seem like a never-ending battle, but there are ways we can promote peaceful togetherness without forcing it. Sometimes when my nine-year-old and ten-year-old are in the thick of a conflict, I will intervene by showing them a framed photo of themselves giggling and hugging each other as toddlers. “See?!” I might say, “You two love each other! Try to remember that!”
- Food and drink. It’s amazing how cozy and warm it can be to enjoy a special treat like a cupcake or hot drink. Earlier today, my five-year-old lost her balance on a kitchen bar stool and bumped her head. I gave her a warm cup of milk and honey, sat close to her with a blanket and her world was instantly a happier one.
- Clothing. The clothes and accessories we wear can have big impact on our mood and well-being. Comfortable can still be cute! In my old house with hardwood floors, putting on a pair of cute and comfy slippers can turn a ho-hum evening into a “hyggelige” one!
- Hygge away from home. While many of us associate hygge with our homes, we can bring little bits of it with us in our vehicles, in our workplaces, and on errands. One of my favorite “hygge-on-the-go” strategies during winter is to bring hot water bottles, or heated rice bags for my kids to snuggle with in the car while we run errands. Get creative, and remember that hygge need not be confined to our homes.
If this post is your first introduction to hygge, then please know I have only scratched the surface! I hope you’ll consider learning more on your own.