If you’ve ever changed into a pair of stretchy pants and thick socks after a long day at work— that’s hygge. If you’ve read a book in front of the fireplace, sipped hot cocoa on a snowy day, binged Netflix with a close friend and a plate of cookies, or eaten comfort food in a dimly-lit restaurant— you’ve experienced hygge.
What Is Hygge?
The Danish word “hygge,” pronounced “HOO-ga,” is used as a verb and as an adjective. It’s a term with no direct translation to English, although it encompasses an atmosphere and a feeling roughly translated into “cozy.”
The Danish fixation on everything hygge explains their ranking as one of the happiest countries in the world. Other countries are starting to catch on, hence the numerous books published in the last two years, including The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking, How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen, and many more.
Hygge is feeling safe, comfortable, and present. You can achieve it when you’re alone, with a loved one, or with a small group of people. You don’t need to be in a specific place—you even can bring hygge to your desk at work.
Feeling like you want to hygge right now? Read on to learn all about hygge.
How Do You Hygge?
Did you know the average Dane burns 13 pounds of candle wax each year? When learning to hygge, do as the Danes do.
In The Little Book of Hygge, author Wiking lists ten elements for a hygge-like situation. Let’s get into those elements, and how to achieve each one.
This is where those candles come in. Dim lighting and soft music will help you achieve a hygge-like atmosphere. Fireplaces, bonfires, good smells, and positive people— these things will help you get your hygge on.
Hygge is about being in the moment. Try to let worries go, and not to harp on things. Don’t even think about watching the news, looking at your Instagram feed or scrolling through Facebook. No phones, tablets, or computers—focus on things that will bring you closer to yourself and to the people you are with.
To properly hygge, you need to take pleasure in the small and simple things in life—a homemade cookie, and a hot drink in hand.
To truly encapsulate all that is hygge, everyone must be on the same level. In a hygge-like gathering, everyone respects one another, there is no jealousy, and people truly are happy for one another.
To get into the hygge mindset, practice gratitude. Focus your gratitude on small things—the air you breathe, the warm clothing you wear, the shelter above your head, and the calm moment you’re experiencing.
Accept the people around you for who they are, and the choices they have made. Accept the objects around you for what they are, and where they have come from. Accept your opinions as your own, and no one else’s.
You easily can practice hygge at home on the sofa with a warm, fluffy blanket— but you also can get comfortable at work. Bring your favorite knitted sweater and a comfy pillow to lean back on to make your work environment more hygge-like.
Avoid heated topics— hygge-like gatherings have no place for political arguments.
Hygge is best achieved alone (if you want alone time), with a loved one, or with a small group of people.
Shelter is just another word for safety—which is what hygge is all about. When you feel safe and secure, you’re in the right mindset for hygge.
The Hygge Lifestyle
The hygge lifestyle is one in which you surround yourself with people you love, take pleasure in the small things that life has to offer, and actively take part in creating an inviting atmosphere.
Committed to the hygge lifestyle? Do the following things to create more hygge in your life:
Switch out harsh lighting for soft lighting.
Get rid of those bright white bulbs and replace them with softer ones.
Stay away from negative people.
You don’t need to engage with someone you know will pull you into a pointless argument.
Dish out the compliments.
A coworker made a great pitch? Congratulate her on a job well-done. Like the way your friend decorated his apartment? Let him know—and be specific. Compliments harvest good, fuzzy feelings.
Blankets and pillows.
A bare couch is the opposite of hygge. If you want that instantly cozy feeling when you walk into your home, a couch well-adorned in knitted blankets and soft pillows is the way to go.
In a hygge-like environment, you’ll have a steaming cup of your favorite hot drink in your hands. Find a few awesome mugs that instantly perk you up. Bring one or two to work, and have plenty at home for yourself and guests.
Meet up with a friend after work.
It’s never a bad time to meet a close friend in your favorite cafe. A heart-to-heart over a cup of coffee after a long day totally can change your mindset to one more hygge-like.
Hygge in the summer.
Since the concept of hygge comes from a country that experiences very cold winters, it’s focused on getting comfy with warm sweaters, fireplaces, hot drinks, and fluffy blankets. That does NOT mean that hygge isn’t attainable in the summer. The same atmosphere created with those other things can be created with a campfire, a barbecue, a porch swing, a glass of iced tea, or a nature stroll. Just remember—it’s not about the objects you use, it’s about the atmosphere you create.