What Is Hygge? How To Introduce This Danish Lifestyle In Your Life



Do you love spending time in a cozy environment? Then you might have already experienced hygge.

Wait…what is hygge?

Hygge is a Danish lifestyle philosophy that helps you practice “coziness of the soul”. As our lives become increasingly complicated, this lifestyle practice can show us the way to all things cozy. By practicing this simple lifestyle you will be able to create a warm cozy atmosphere in your home that will make you feel comfortable, warm, safe, peaceful, and happy. Now, who wouldn’t like that?

Hygge is about enjoying the little and the good things in life which offer positive energy. Over the past few years, hygge has become popular in the West, yet most of us are still unsure about how to actually practice it. The concept was primarily popularized by Meik Wiking’s “The Little Book of Hygge”. (1) Moreover, it was shortlisted as the Word of the Year in 2016 by Oxford Dictionary.

But what exactly is Hygge? And how can you use it in your life to make it ‘cozier’? Let’s get to it.

What is Hygge?

The term hygge, pronounced as hoo-gah or hue-gah, is derived from the ancient Norse word, “Hugga”, meaning console or comfort. It is no surprise that the English word “hug” is also derived from the same source as hygge. It is mainly about feelings of closeness, comfort, and warmth, which is exactly what you feel when you hug someone. There is another related term “hyggelig”, pronounced hoo-gah-lee, used to describe hygge-like experiences and things. For instance, “Your home is very hyggelig.” Or “Sunday afternoon was so hyggelig.”

However, it is much more than just a word for the Danes. This philosophy is an essential part of Danish culture and promotes the crucial practice of being cozy by enjoying simple things. It is claimed that because of the practice of hygge, Denmark has been identified as the happiest country in the world by happiness economists despite their wet and cold climate. Initially documented around the 18th century, the concept of hygge is to enjoy and experience life in a comfortable and relaxed way. By practicing this lifestyle, you deliberately get rid of negativity and other annoying, stressful things from your life by adding soothing, gentle, and positive things.

By practicing this lifestyle, you deliberately get rid of negativity and other annoying, stressful things in your life by adding soothing, gentle, and positive things.

Related: 4 Easy Ways To Let Go Of Negativity From Your Life And Find Happiness

Understanding Hygge as a practice

Living a hygge life is about focusing on being cozy. You can start practicing hygge by surrounding yourself with what makes you happy…with what makes your life better. It can be good food and drink, warm ambiance, the right lighting in your home, relationships, friendship, security, and laughter.

So what is hygge?

Hygge is drinking hot coffee.
Hygge is having dinner with your loved ones.
Hygge is just relaxing in your room by candlelight.
Hygge is taking a walk in the park on a relaxing afternoon.
Hygge is playing enjoyable relaxing music.
Hygge is reading a book under a warm blanket.
Hygge is enjoying tranquil solitude.

Hygge is the new mantra for happiness. This Danish philosophy is a state of mind, not just a comfortable lifestyle choice. The Danish believe that healing, health, and happiness can be experienced only when you have the right state of mind and experience a comfortable life. A life lived through the philosophy of hygge should comprise of 5 basic elements:

  • Comfort
  • Companionship
  • Relaxation
  • Connection to Nature
  • Simplicity

The core essence of this concept is the humble pursuit of happiness in our daily lives. It is just like the feeling of hugging a loved one, but without any physical touch.

Why you must practice Hygge

By practicing hygge you will certainly be able to live a more comfortable and happy life. But there are other physical, emotional and social benefits you can get from a hygge life.

1. Emotional benefits of Hygge

A hygge lifestyle instills a sense of peace and calms in your life. By following the hygge philosophy to create your environment and decor with the use of sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch, you will make your living space cozy. This will reduce stress and anxiety and promote safety and emotional well-being. This allows us to connect better and more closely with our loved ones by making us relaxed and comfortable.

Some probable emotional benefits of hygge are:

  • Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
  • Enhance mindfulness
  • Improved optimism
  • Increased self-compassion & self-worth
  • Better practice of gratitude

2. Physical benefits of Hygge

When you feel peaceful, calm, and relaxed, your physical health gets better. When you are anxious or stressed, your mind prepares your body to go into a fight, flight, or freeze response. By creating an atmosphere of coziness, comfort, and safety through hygge, your mind and body will feel more relaxed.

Here are some physical benefits of a hygge life:

  • Reduced spikes in stress hormones
  • Better sleep
  • Enhanced self-care practices
  • Improved weight control
  • Lower risk of substance abuse like drugs and alcohol

3. Social benefits of Hygge

Being physically comfortable and emotionally safe will make you more open and you will build better relationships. You will be better able to nurture your relationships and have an improved social life. A hygge lifestyle allows you to connect with friends, family, and loved ones on a deeper level.

Some of the relationships and social benefits of hygge are:

  • Enhanced feelings of togetherness
  • Improved trust and bonding
  • Increased feelings of safety in relationships
  • New social networks and connections
  • Better intimacy

Related: How Practicing One Small Habit Can Change Your Life

How to introduce Hygge in your life?

So you want to bring some more hygge into your home and your life. Great idea. There are many ways that you can follow to get started right away. Here are a few ways you can start your hygge life:

1. Light Candles

Lighting is a crucial part of practicing a hygge lifestyle and introducing it in your living space. Replace all harsh overhead light fixtures & fluorescent or white bulbs with candles as soft light will make your environment warmer and comfortable. Candles will make your environment more inviting and build ambiance. You may also use scented candles for better relaxation.

2. Walk in nature

Walking is one of the most hyggelig activities you can do. Go out for a walk to a nearby park or out in nature in different kinds of weather, summer, monsoon or winter, with a friend or family members. Enjoy the natural splendor and talk with your loved ones as you enjoy your walk. You may also take a walk with your pet or go all by yourself, just make sure you enjoy it.

3. Spend time with friends & family

How much time do you spend watching TV (or even Netflix) with your friends? Watching horror movies with your friends, siblings and family members is considered to be a hygge activity. Watching something scary with your loved ones can be a fun and cozy experience as you know you are safe among friends even though you are terrified. However, make sure you stick to fictional shows.

4. Read books

Reading is hyggelig as it allows you to relax and detach yourself from your reality. A book allows you to take a break from your fast-paced busy life and enjoy some relaxing downtime. You can make your hygge experience better by covering yourself with a soft blanket and curling up on a couch while reading during the winter. During summer, you can go outside, sit underneath the cool shade of a tree and enjoy your book.

5. Enjoy your meals

Share home-cooked meals with friends and family as it is way more hygge than ordering out or eating out. Cook comfort food with natural and fresh ingredients. Try to avoid fancy cuisine or elaborate presentations. Make the food as welcoming and enjoyable as possible. When you enjoy food mindfully in the presence of your loved ones, your brunches and dinners will be much more hygge.

6. Sip on a hot beverage

The most enjoyable way to experience hygge is to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea or even hot chocolate. Hot beverages make us feel warm and cozy and that is what hygge is all about. Just sit back, take slow long sips and enjoy your drink. You can also try the glogg, which is Denmark’s go-to hygge drink.

On a wet or a cold day, nothing can be more comforting than cozying up on your couch with a steaming cup of your favorite warm beverage in your hand.

7. Bring nature home

Add some natural elements in your living space to boost the hyggelig of your home. Nature helps us to reduce stress and anxiety and bringing nature’s elements indoors is essential for a hygge lifestyle. You can use potted indoor plants, stones, wood, and even sunlight to add a touch of nature to your home.

8. Add some texture

Make your living space more interesting and comfy by using different textures to your home decor. You can use metal, textiles, faux fur, pottery, and various other vibrant textures in your home to make it more hygge-like.

9. Wear comfortable clothes

You can’t really feel very cozy wearing a suit or a gown. Now can you? To experience hygge, you need to get into comfy and easy clothing which are loose-fitting and allows you to move around easily. For winters, the Danish recommend knitted socks, sweaters, and sweatpants, or hyggebusker, which are the classic choices for a hyggelig life.

10. Listen to relaxing music

Music has the power to influence our moods and listening to good comfortable music can help you feel relaxed, stress-free and hygge. You can start enjoying the flow of positive vibes and energy by playing relaxing and soft music in your living space.

11. Go for a bike ride

The Danes love riding bikes and Copenhagen is the world’s first official Bike City. Why? Because bikes are hygge. As they move slower than cars, you can enjoy your ride and the environment around you. You can start by biking to work. Researchers have found that cycling to work will make you both happier and healthier.(2)(3)

12. Write down your thoughts

Journal writing is a great way to relax, let out your thoughts & emotions and reduce stress. Writing down your thoughts allows you to connect with and understand yourself better. Start journaling on a daily basis and write down whatever you feel like whenever you can get some downtime to experience hygge.

13. Cuddle

Snuggling with a loved one is perhaps the most hygge experience you can get. What can be more comforting than a hug? It includes all the ingredients of hygge, from feeling cozy, relaxed, comfortable, and simplicity to spending meaningful time with the people you love. So make sure you cuddle with your partner, your children, your bestie, and even your pet whenever you can. It’s the most amazing feeling you can experience.

“Hygge is like a good hug — but without the physical contact.” – Iben Dissing Sandahl

Get Hyggelig

The best thing about hygge is that anyone can practice it in their daily life. It doesn’t matter if you are from Denmark or any other part of the world. Practicing hygge has become even more important today in our modern, fast-paced, stressful lives. We all like to boast about how busy we are as we believe it makes us appear important and successful.

But hygge allows us to slow down and experience life as it unfolds. It helps us relax and find joy in the simplicity of regular small activities. It is only by living a hyggelig lifestyle, we can truly experience happiness, peace, and an unwavering feeling of coziness.


1. https://www.amazon.com/Little-Book-Hygge-Penguin-Life/dp/0241283914
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20580736/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5541523/
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