The Basics of Hygge

Hygge has been all the rave lately. I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of it, and I’m also sure it won’t be the last. The Scandinavian way of life has made itself known in the international realm recently and it has really taken off as the newest trend here in the States.

What is Hygge?

Hygee (pronounced HOO-guh) is a Danish word defined as the “a quality of coziness and comfort that conveys a feeling of contentment or well-being.” As with many languages, the translation isn’t exact, but the English term “cozy” comes close.

What makes hygge such a unique concept is that the Dane’s view it as part of their cultural identity. It’s not just a trendy word or fad. It’s a huge part of the way they live their lives.

In one article I read an author referred to hygge was “healthy hedonism.” Another author calls it “a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of every day life”.

In “The Little Book of Hygge,” the author shares a story about a Christmas Day spent with friends in a woodsy cabin. After a hike in the snow, the friends sat around the fireplace wearing sweaters and woolen socks, listening to the crackle of the fire, and enjoying mulled wine. One of his friends asked, “Could this be any more hygge?” Everyone nodded when one woman replied, “Yes, if a storm were raging outside.”the-basics-of-hygge.jpg

Essentials for Mastering Hygge

Atmosphere – Hygge is all about the atmosphere. This means lighting, blankets, music, anything and everything that makes the vibe of a place irresistible. Turn off the lights, in favor of a wonderful smelling candle. Grab your softest blanket, and put some soulful music on in the background.

Be Present – Technology is the opposite of hygge. Turn off your laptop and the TV. Step away from the phone and be truly present in the moment.

Pleasure – Hygge is about truly enjoying and taking in the things that give you pleasure. Get yourself a warm drink like coffee or tea, and break off a piece of dark chocolate. Give yourself permission to enjoy these little things that make you happy.

We > Me – Equality is the huge part of hygge. Every person has an equal seat at the metaphorical hygge table. The whole is always greater than the individual parts when it comes to hygge.

Gratitude – Be grateful for your home, your fiends, the food and drink, the atmosphere and the moment you’re currently in. Take the time to appreciate even the smallest things.

Harmony – Hygge isn’t a competition. It’s about the people, the atmosphere, and everything else working together in harmony to create the ultimate bubble of coziness and acceptance.

Comfort – Put away those fancy clothes! Comfy, cozy knits, oversized sweatshirts, wool socks, and stretchy soft pants are hygge attire at its best.

Truce – There is no room for drama, gossip, or ill-will when trying to hygge. Talk about the good, and be the brightness instead of bashing others and adding to the hate.

Togetherness – While you can have hygge alone, the true core of hygge is built upon spending genuine, quality time with others. It’s about building relationships and narratives.

Thrive – Possibly the most important element of hygge: safety! Safe to be yourself. Safe to speak your mind. Safe to thrive without expectations and judgements.the-basics-of-hygge.jpg

More Hygge Tips

Expand your comfort zone to include other people

Hygge is about inclusion. It’s about giving you a chance to form deeper connections with casual friends and aquaninstences.

Keep things natural

Natural is always better. Things like wood-burning fireplaces, brick, candles, plants, and various different textures are major hygge components.

Hygge can happen during all seasons

A lot of people – myself included – think of hygge as a winter thing. It is definitely not. Hygge can and is achieved just as much on a beach as it is on a cold winter night.

Hygge is about being kind to yourself

Beyond coziness and comfort, hygge is about giving yourself the permission to slow down. American culture especially has a huge problem with glorifying the hustle. So many people struggle with giving themselves the permission to slow things down, to really embrace all the smaller simpler things.

Homemade anything > store bought

This kind of goes along with keeping things natural. Store bought means preservatives and ingredients we can’t pronounce. Homemade means freshness, whole ingredients, and love.

Casual (yet stylish) is key

Hygge isn’t grungy or unkept. It’s casual and effortless, yet slightly stylish without trying too hard.

Home is where the hygge is

The absolute best place to get your hygge on is at your own home, or someplace that gives you at similar feeling of home.

Recommended Reading

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

Making Winter: A Hygge-Inspired Guide to the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell

Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Britta Olsson


What are your thoughts on hygge?

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