I love the Danish concept of hygge.
Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-gah’) is defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’. Even that definition sounded kind of like poetry – don’t you think?
Much more than just a word, however, it is an entire way of life, a very Scandinavian way of living, that I think everyone should consider embracing.
What is hygge?
In a nutshell, hygge is finding happiness in the little things in life. Even though it is a Danish word, it is for everyone – no matter who you are and where you are.
Everyone is busy, everyone is caught up with something – work, family, studying, socialising, life. I know I am. I sometimes forget to take the time to just let things go, let my emotions and thoughts settle, and let myself just be.
Why do we need hygge?
There are practical and scientific reasons why we easily get caught up in the whirlwind of life.
As grown-ups we are always multitasking, with many things on our minds and on our schedules at any one time. We also worry about the future and the past as well, so fill our minds with extra things to think about that aren’t even happening right now!
We also worry and feel for others, including our loved ones, acquaintances and even complete strangers. Our brains never stop thinking and processing things cognitively; that is what they are designed to do.
Our minds are constantly alert to keep us alive, to observe our surroundings and look for danger. Highly necessary when we faced the possibility of being eaten by sabre-tooth tigers, but not always so necessary today.
Interestingly your brain is only 2% of your body weight, but uses up 20% of your body’s resting energy – this might start to explain why you are so exhausted all the time even though you feel like you achieve nothing.
While technically we can’t switch our minds off or make them blank, we can do things to manage and control our thoughts better.
Why should you embrace hygge in your life?
Hygge is about always bringing your thoughts back to the everyday little things and small moments.
Happiness is made up of these, rather than just grand events; finding magic in the ordinary, commonplace, imperfection.
The beauty of the everyday, not the exceptional. The beauty of the typical, that is so often left unnoticed until we approach mindfully and simply open our eyes and minds.
The small things that money can’t buy.
Hygge is a very subjective, personal construct, and can take many forms, as you individually define it.
For example, you might love hygge time with family, friends, yourself, a home that is cozy (which doesn’t need to be full of things), time chilling out with nature, or connecting with yourself in a hobby you love……
Inviting hygge into your life
As you can probably start to imagine, there are many ways you can embrace hygge and invite the concept into your life.
It can be in your relationships, your activities, your experiences and even in your surroundings (and isn’t limited to just that…).
Perhaps start by making a list of things that you do already which can slow you down and bring happiness to a single moment or experience. You could add to the list things you’ve always wanted to try like new hobbies, new food or travelling to new destinations.
For me, unsurprisingly, my daily hygge ritual with coffee/tea/chocolate is a big part of it; I love the simple, elegant place that they have in the everyday. Its repetition and dependability, something that you can trust in and switch off to.
These times are also a well-deserved treat for me, which communicates a transition from hard work to leisure.
In a life where everything moves quickly, when your plate is always loaded and you have to be on top of everything, it’s nice to have the certainty and comfort of a morning routine.
You can find peace in a cup of coffee or tea before everyone in the household heads off in their own direction, a simple moment of connection through the medium of coffee or tea.
What is hygge to me?
Hygge to me, in a nutshell, is:
- A cup of tea in the solitude of morning when no one is awake yet.
- Sneaking in a bite of chocolate during a bit of me-time.
- Listening to the rain on a winter’s day, with hands around a nice hot cup of coffee and my family around me.
- Enjoying a good book with a cup of tea.
- Spending time with family and friends.
- Going someplace new, travelling.
I also have hygge moments by:
- Being out in nature.
- Taking a long bath with a glass of wine and scented candles.
- Eating good and wholesome food.
- Indulging in hobbies.
When I look at my list, hygge is about togetherness.
Together with other people, together with myself, together with my vision of a simple and intentional life, what I love to do, what I feel and what I experience.
Space to take stock, strive a bit less.
To live in the moment, and try not to worry about things (which sometimes is difficult, I must admit!).
Hygge at home
Hygge is also about your physical surroundings. You can find it in a home that embraces you and uplifts you after a hard day of work; your safe harbour.
We can easily take having a roof over our heads for granted, or just think of it as a burden, a never-ending mess that we have to clean.
You can embrace hygge in your home by, where you can, finding a space in your house for mental recharging.
For instance, place a comfortable armchair in a quiet corner with some nice plush cushions. Place a small table and a lamp next to the armchair. Have a small vase of fresh flowers on the table if that’s your thing.
Then sit yourself down, and lose yourself in a good book with a cup of tea and coffee, or some yummy chocolates.
Hygge is about the joy of immersion in experiences and things in your everyday life.
What would it be like for you if you are keen to explore coffee, tea and chocolate?
The immersion in caffeine culture, trying new cafes and tea shops, discovering new tastes, learning its culture, history and rituals.
Having a cuppa in nature with the sounds of birds around you. Sitting on the balcony, gazing up at the blue sky, chilling out with your favourite caffeine.
So, what is hygge for you? And what will you do to embrace it?
Wishing you a great day,
Suk-yi is a caffeine lover, blogger, entrepreneur, air quality consultant, environmentalist, world citizen, wife and mother. She explores various topics related to coffee, tea, chocolate and everything in between on her blog. Make sure to follow her on her Facebook Page, Instagram Page and Pinterest Page.