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Hygge: The Danish Secret to Happiness?

Updated on June 28, 2017
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Writing Nag is the pseudonym for blogger Patty Biro. Patty writes about various topics; creative writing, finance, vintage, home/lifestyle.

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What Is Hygge?

A rough translation of hygge (pronounced "hoo-gah") is being comfortable and contented. We think of hygge as being warm and cozy, but it is so much more. If you live in a part of the country that experiences long, cold winters, you might be yearning for hygge without even knowing it. Or perhaps you have already found your own ways to bring hygge into your life.

Hygge can be sharing a quiet meal in front of the fireplace, spending the day with family and friends, or cocooning in a comforting, sheltered space with lots of books and good food.

For people that experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), hygge can be the little things that bring light into a long dark day.

Why Hygge Is So Important

According to the World Happiness Report which is released by the United Nations, the Danish people are the happiest people on earth. The other Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Faroe Islands) also rate at the top of the list. Is the culture of hygge responsible for this? We do know that residents of Denmark appreciate and embrace the simple pleasures of life. This quest for hygge is a big part of their culture.

According to a 2015 Healthday article, money or lack of money is still the largest stressor for Americans. But getting hygge doesn't have to cost very much except for time and a commitment. After a very stressful year, Americans seem to be embracing the word and marketers, advertisers, and publishers are on board. A recent review of Amazon found more than 20 books on the subject of "how to hygge."

Do you create a sense of well-being for yourself, your family, and your friends? Do you plan events where comfort, family, and friends come first? Do you value the little things in life? Are you grateful for simple moments of pleasure?

Hyggelig

HOO-gah-lee is used as an adjective. For example, when describing a day or an event you might say, "Wasn't our dinner so hyggelig?"

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Ways to bring hygge into your life

  • Enjoy the beauty of the moment without documenting every moment on social media.
  • Turn off all of the electronic devices and connect with others.
  • Think candlelight, hand-knitted garments, cozy blankets, good conversation, and quiet times.
  • Embrace friendships and family relationships.
  • Share good comforting food without the worry of dieting.
  • Enjoy homemade baked goods for breakfast or any time of day. Apple fritters, cinnamon buns, and cakes are very hygge.
  • Watch a movie together.
  • Read a book, play board games together, watch the snow fall.
  • Express gratitude for all that you have.
  • Cherish dinner with friends.
  • Celebrate experiences over possessions.
  • Regular self-care.
  • Hold and appreciate a delicious warm beverage on a cold day; coffee, hot chocolate, Glögg, spiced apple cider.

A Swedish Tradition: Fika

Once or twice a day, Swedes break for coffee and something sweet. More than just a coffee break, it's about connecting with others. This is a custom that acknowledges quality time. It is a social phenomenon; a formalized context to set aside moments together.

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