Hygge is a Danish work that is considered untranslatable – although many try! Some say that hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is meant to be felt, not translated. Why is this word suddenly a buzz word and the No.1 export from Denmark? Let’s take a look.
I visited Denmark a couple of years ago – and loved it. And yes, you could feel the hygge. So if a visit is an option for you – definitely go and experience hygge as the Danes know it! But if you can’t go, what is it all about and how can you recreate it for yourself?
What is hygge?
Hygge is a lifestyle concept. It is heart-warming stuff – think cozy, friendships, contentment.
Some people associate it with wearing a favorite snuggly sweater, sitting under a blanket around a fire with friends or family, candles lit, eating a homemade meal, laughing and enjoying each others’ company.
Everyone is trying to get into it. Universities teach courses on hygge; restaurants and shops are trying to create it. There is even a Hygge wallpaper and fabric company in the US. Check out a couple of their designs:
Make you feel all hygge and warm and cozy…and Danish???
Some Danes feel that hygge isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays people often see it as being good to yourself, cherishing oneself. Snuggling up to watch TV alone or reading a book with a cup of tea in hand. But the older population say that hygge has lost its key socialization focus. Hygge is social.
Many imagine the “coziness” part of hygge to mean it’s a winter thing. But it’s a year ’round concept. Think of a picnic in the park with friends and a nice bottle of wine and conversation. Maybe playing a game.
Why is hygge a buzzword now?
The word and concept hygge have been around a long time – but it’s recently become quite a buzzword. Why now? Let’s look at its components.
Within our digital age, we have many online interactions but fewer socializations without electronics involved. When do we disconnect electronically and reconnect convivially with others? Hygge encourages spending time with others and building supportive relationships for nourishment. Stronger social relationships are associated with lower risk for all-cause mortality – so it’s worth investing time in this. We are social creatures, and the importance of this is clearly seen when you compare the satisfaction people feel in relationships with their overall satisfaction with life. Hygge is all about laughing with some friends. Chat and play. Share thoughts, feelings, and give and receive support.
Part of the whole picture is not just creating this cozy connected feeling, but also feeling grateful for it and the people and circumstances surrounding it. Just like socialization, there is plenty of research on the benefits of gratitude. One study looked at the act of writing down three things you are grateful for each day. The benefits of this on mood persist for months, even when you stop journalling. And what about sharing your gratitudes. Remember saying grace before meals? It’s being grateful for the food that we can eat and the people we are with. It doesn’t have to be religious. But we can still be grateful.
So let’s look for hygge opportunities in our lives, share them with others, and appreciate them. I was just talking to my sister who has been working on their garden. She was saying how much she enjoys sitting out there in the evening, under a snuggly blanket and enjoying the family.
How can you create some hygge this coming week or weekend?
If you want to explore this concept more, look out for the book The Little Book of Hygge: Danish secrets to happy living.