What Is Hygge and How You Can Start Practicing It Immediately
“Everyone can identify with a fragrant garden, with the beauty of a sunset, with the quiet of nature, with a warm and cozy cottage.” – Thomas Kincade
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 which 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”. 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?
“Hygge is all about appreciating the little things in life and being thankful for them.” – Sofie Pedersen
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 the Danish culture and promotes the crucial practice of being cozy by enjoying the 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.
Understanding Hygge as a practice
“Hygge was never meant to be translated—it was meant to be felt.” – Pia Edberg,
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 in candlelight.
Hygge is talking 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. The 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:
- Connection to Nature
According to author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Meik Wiking, in Denmark hygge is:
“A defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA. The true essence of hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness and it’s basically like a hug, just without the 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.
Emotional benefits of Hygge
A hygge lifestyle instills a sense of peace and calm 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
Physical benefits of Hygge
When you feel peaceful, calm and relaxed, your physical health gets better. When we 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
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
How to introduce Hygge in your life
“Hygge is not just a word but also a way of life, a feeling, and a mood that helps you to remain happy with the things that you have in life, especially the small things, and the precious time spent with family and friends.” – Jens Borgg
So you want to bring some more hygge into your home and your life. Great idea. There are many ways you 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.