The concept of “hygge” (which is pronounced hoo-gah) is a restorative state of mind practiced for centuries in Denmark (by way of Norway). Usually translated into English as “coziness,” it’s about finding warmth and intimacy in everything you do.
Though very old, hygge is just now gaining traction outside of its origins. Perhaps because Denmark has topped the latest UN World Happiness Report as the second happiest country on earth, people are intrigued by the lifestyles its inhabitants enjoy.
With hygge meant to promote a feeling of contentment, its no wonder people around the world are interested in the concept as way to create more happiness, friendliness, and wellbeing in everyday life.
“The rest of the world seems to be slowly waking up to what Danes have been wise to for generations – that having a relaxed, cosy time with friends and family, often with coffee, cake or beer, can be good for the soul,” explains Helen Russell, author of The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. “Hygge seems to me to be about being kind to yourself – indulging, having a nice time, not punishing or denying yourself anything.”
“There isn’t so much enforced deprivation in Denmark. Instead you’re kinder to yourselves and so each other,” she continues.
If hygge sounds like something you need, here are four simple ways you can add it into your life.
1. Make spaces in your home hygge-friendly.
Coziness and intimacy can be felt in spaces that seem lived in. Take your favorite vintage and reclaimed knickknacks and place them throughout your home to promote this laid-back and inviting vibe. Things like knit throws and candles are perfect for creating comfort and warmth. If you have a space in your home that feels large and open, consider shifting the items in your home to turn this space into something that resembles a place where people would gravitate toward for an intimate gathering.
2. Create a space for solitude.
With meditation continuing to gain steam as a tool for promoting overall wellbeing, why not ensure you have a space in your home dedicated to practicing mindfulness? Whether you’re sitting cross-legged and reciting a mantra or curling up with a cup of tea and writing in a gratitude journal, finding a space in your home that serves solely for you to tap in, while tapping out of other distractions like social media, will make it more likely that you actually use the space for that purpose.
Take an evening bath lit by candlelight. Curl up with your cat on the couch and listen to soft music. You can practice this hygge technique outside the home as well. Go for a walk on the beach by yourself and listen to the waves crash. Stroll through the woods and listen to the sound of leaves crunching beneath your feet. The point is, don’t multitask. Pick your activity and do just that, and only that, to enjoy a soothing and reflective practice.
3. Eat for the soul.
Comfort food often gets a bad rap, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Making a warm dish full of earthy flavors, like a vegetable farro risotto, or enjoying a steaming cup of tea, promotes coziness. Eating and drinking hot foods also ensures you slow down your consumption, which in turn allows you to practice intention and mindfulness. Hygge is not about being rushed. It’s about being in the moment, and indulging in that moment wholeheartedly.
4. Enjoy quality time with family and friends.
Celebrating life with family and friends is often left for holidays and big events, but the hygge approach is to incorporate your nearest and dearest regularly so as to promote love. Enjoy intimate gatherings with those you enjoy most around the fire, on the couch, at the dining table, or even for a hike together. The idea it to promote togetherness that makes people want to put down their phones and enjoy each other’s presence.
5. Enjoy the great outdoors.
Coziness isn’t just about curling up on the couch by the fire. Hygge can be practiced outside, as well. Bundle up on a cold day and take a walk with friends. Go for a midsummer midnight swim. Have a backyard BBQ with friends. All you need to do is make sure you are promoting mind, body, and soul nourishment.
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