Hygge: A Danish term defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” The Little Book of Hygge
True confession time: I love to hygge. Pronounced “hoo-gah,” this superior Scandinavian practice has no direct translation in English, but “cozy and comfy” comes close. Hygge comes from a centuries-old Norwegian term meaning to comfort or console. The Norwegians call this the Art of Kos—being “koselig.”
Coziness is actually a life skill in Norway. (cue my Norwegian mother-in-law), and is related to the English word “hug”. We might use it as a noun, verb, or adjective. Sort of a one-size-fits-all word for the ideas of relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude.
Wintertime is the most hygge season of the year—a blazing fire in the fireplace or fire pit, lighting and burning candles, surrounding yourself with nubby woolen blankets, fuzzy slippers, drinking hot cocoa, lattes, spiced tea, or hot toddies (this one being a Norwegian favorite!) eating delish pastries, and wearing the faded twenty-year-old, once stylish, fleece pants that no one can touch, except to wash.
We can hygge with friends—the true expression of hygge, by joining loved ones in a relaxed and intimate setting and sharing some, or all, of the props listed above. However, one can hygge alone, and this is where my heart yearns at the moment.
By choice, I readily admit that right now, I am living life at Mach speed. While walking the walk and talking the talk I offer here, I still run on HIGH when I run, but I do stop and sleep long, meditate, exercise, and recharge.
That’s where my hygge comes in. Stopping and being still is one of the most effective things we can do to recharge, reorient, and revive ourselves when the outer world threatens to crush us. Adding candles, a lively fire, a soft blankie, and a delicious hot drink, soothes and restores us on all levels.
Strong science backs up this wondrous practice, with new research coming to light all the time. I just love that science tells us to hygge more to feel happier. The benefits of hygge, (seems like it should be called hygge-ing), envelop us even with short stints of hygge; my usual hygge-ing time lasts roughly thirty minutes to an hour. I intuit when my tanks are refilled, and hop up from my nest, refreshed. Sometimes, I close my eyes, and do my gran’s “lie down,” as I often mention, more snuggled into a deep comfy chair than stretching out, but the benefits are the same—afterward I’m ready to go for the next exciting thing.
I first learned about hygge with others when I was just a newlywed and my husband and I would go visiting the various family members during holiday time. Special small tablecloths are made throughout Scandinavia for laying over the coffee table, where the delicious homemade sweet treats are served along with those hot toddies (some even non-alcoholic 😉 ) Delightful forks and tiny spoons accompany the little plates offered. We then sit around and chat and visit often while the evening shadows wrap us in darkness—candles and fire burning all the while. We leave fulfilled from the yummy food and lively conversation.
You don’t have to be Norwegian to recreate this convivial experience. It’s a great practice no matter your heritage. The heart connections we create, or strengthen, do so much for our emotional and mental health, keeping our brain humming and our neurons strong. With no set way to hygge, we are only limited by our imagination. Let yours go this season and find time to hygge—both alone and with others; the rewards are so worth it. Happy Hygge!
Until next time… Be Vibrant!