What the heck is Hygge? And do you need it?


This time of year, the weather can be cold and dreary … the mornings and evenings dark … some winter days will have you dreaming of warmer breezes and brighter months for sure.  So if you are feeling the chill and blues of winter, then a dose of the popular concept hygge may be in order. Say What??? Yeah Hygge and I know you may be wondering what the heck is it, how you even pronounce it, and why it’s so popular?
Hygge (pronounced “hoo-geh”) is a Danish concept of finding pleasure in everyday things, simplifying life, and creating coziness in the home and/or surroundings. It encourages you to savor the good moments and foster meaningful relationships while relaxing and indulging. The word derives from the Norwegian term, hugga, which means “to comfort” or “to console,” and while there is no literal translation in English (well maybe the closest translation would be “hug”), it’s a mindset that has helps sustain the Danish through the long, cold Denmark winters … did you know that the Danes rank as one of the happiest people on the planet?  They must be doing something right!!
Anyhoo, the concept has increased in popularity around the world, and there are several books out on the topic, with more reportedly to come. In fact, one of the Oxford Dictionary’s finalists for 2016 Word of the Year was “hygge.”
So let’s take a look at some ways you can bring a little (or a lot) of hygee into your life and home.

Lighting: Dim the lights and dig out the candles (opt for natural beeswax over scented ones). Proper lighting is an essential part of hygge. Soft, natural glows offer a warmer and more relaxing environment. No candles? Simply turn off “the big light” and opt for warm-toned lamps or fairy lights to heighten warmth and coziness.

Hygge Together: Hygge is best when shared in an intimate group of people. Studies show spending quality time with loved ones makes us the happiest. Gather with friends and family over a warm cup of coffee, serve a hot meal around the table, bring out the board games, or laugh until the wee hours of the morning. Laughter, conversation, and warmth of friendship are all part of hygge.

Cozy Furnishings: Break out the blankets and pillows to create hygge in your home, with an emphasis on things natural and soft, preferably made from natural materials like wool. Try creating a cozy nook with soft cushions and blankets where you can snuggle up with a good book. Hygge is all about homeyness, and by creating a space with pieces that make you happy, you’ve created hygge.

Be Comfortable: Think woolly socks, knit sweaters, and warm leggings. Natural fibers are a great way to feel warm and cozy during the brisk winter. Dig out your favorite warm and cozy garments and get ready to hygge!

Eat and Drink Well: Hygge is all also about indulging in the good things in life. For many of us that includes delicious, comforting and hearty food: delicious soup or a simple roast chicken. Keep foods simple and spend time with loved ones by cooking together. Hygge is about satisfying your taste buds and allowing yourself to enjoy things that make you happy. Cakes, pastries, and cookies are definitely hygge. Don’t forget to serve up those hot drinks. Mugs of rich hot cocoa, tea, and coffee are all good for warming the soul.

Unplug: Hygge is all about living in the moment and embracing life. Turn off the cell phones and TV. Pick up a book, read the newspaper, share a conversation, listen (or create music), paint a picture, or play a game. It is easy to get lost in the digital world and neglect each other. Spend time with the people you love (or yourself) and don’t let screens distract you from being present and in the moment.

Nature: There is no shortage of happiness in nature. Bringing the outdoors inside is a great way to feel connected to the outside while remaining snuggly inside. Willowy branches, bunches of fresh blooms, pinecones, and piles of wood are all reminders of our beautiful world outdoors. Feeling connected to nature, even reminders of it inside, help bring a sense of peace and comfort. And the best part is that you have to be IN nature (which also brings a since of hygee) if you are bringing the “real” nature indoors.  This one is a two-fer =)

Linger: Enjoying and savoring the moment is total hygge. Lingering after meals, savoring conversations, and slowing the pace of life. Pour a cup of coffee, light the candles, snuggle up under a blanket with a loved one, and slow time enough to soak it all in. Aim to achieve this nirvana with a sense of coziness, camaraderie, and contentment. Add a little hygge to your life this winter and embrace the beauties of the season.

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