It’s a warm cup of tea and a good book on a rainy day. It’s cooking a hearty and healthy meal with friends and lingering over it. It’s recognizing the beauty of a gaggle of geese in flight or taking delight in birdsong outside your window.
While it can be hard to come up with one English word that encompasses all of the above, the Danish concept of Hygge is popular for Americans craving a little more comfort and enjoyment in life.
Pronounced “hoo-ga,” this Danish way of life is all about feelings of cozy contentment and appreciating life’s simple pleasures. Loosely translated, Hygge is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being, and it likely goes a long way in explaining why the Danes are almost universally-recognized as among the happiest people in the world.
Hygge is such an integral part of being Danish that it is considered “a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA,” says to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the 2017 book The Little Book of Hygge. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe,” Wiking explains. “Hygge is an atmosphere and an experience.”
Inevitably, Hygge will mean different things to different people but we can all certainly add a little coziness and comfort to our lives doing a few simple and inexpensive things:
• Make a pot of hearty, comforting soup – and enjoy with close family and friends (find a great recipe here)
• Light a favorite scented candle and pick up a good book
• Take a steaming hot shower or bubble bath, then wrap up in a soft robe or blanket
• Add more plants and other natural materials such as leather, wood, and stone to your living spaces
• Take a slow walk through a local park or natural area
Perhaps one of the best attributes of the concept of Hygge is that it’s free and available to anyone and everyone, whether they are alone, in small groups or large communities. There is nothing specific to do or buy. People who go to the grocery store looking for a Hygge section or who want to buy Hygge-certified sheets for their bed will be disappointed! So sit back, relax and add a little extra Hygge to your life.