“Hygge” – The Danish Word for that Cozy Feeling

Have you heard about it yet?

“Hygge”?

It’s a Danish word to capture a certain special feeling – one that we don’t really have a good word for in English.

But we’re starting to catch on here and the States – and in the rest of the world – because boy is it nice.

For those not yet in the know, “hygge” is a word that captures a special, certain cozy feeling you may get, for example, when sitting by a fireplace or candles, with some tea or a hot drink, with loved ones or good friends around, just relaxing – perhaps reading a book.

(Not cozy enough an example for you?)

Imagine being in a cozy cabin, out in the wilderness, with some close friends – the forest outside is beautiful but cold and wet, yet you’re safe and warm, with people you like, protected from the outside world. That’s hygge.

Or imagine it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas and you’ve just eaten a big meal, and now you’re relaxing afterward with your favorite relatives or friends, sipping coffee, just feeling content, with soft warm lights around. That’s hygge.

The technical definition of the term – at least according to the most reliable source I can think of, Wikipedia, is – “coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” That’s pretty good – a lot better than the totally inaccurate google translation (which is “fun”).

But I’d suggest it’s only in thinking about times in your own life that you’ve personally really felt cozy and content – or imaging situations where you really would – when you truly understand the term. So see if right now, you can think of a cozy moment from your past, and remember how it felt. Or imagine your own special, ideal safe haven, and see how that feels. Take a moment.

Good:) I think you get it.

Now I’ve read one entire book about the subject (Matt Weiking’s Little Book of Hygge), so I’m pretty much an expert by now…

But after spending some time reading about it, one thing really strikes me above all else:

How important and prioritized hygge is in Danish culture.

The entire culture – down to the government structure itself, a welfare state, with strong safety nets, free healthcare, generous family leave and unemployment – seems to pick hygge above all else.

While in America we’re focusing on personal accomplishment, GDP, career growth, money, buying things – which all sounds pretty nice, too, at least on the face of it – Danes seem to have universally agreed that there’s something more important.

That difference in priorities – that a whole country seems to agree on – is what really fascinates me.

And I think that’s where you can make the biggest difference in your own life as well. Not so much in the little tricks for creating hygge (which I will certainly give you in a moment!), but in a fundamental shift in priorities.

Because focusing on hygge really does seem to make people happier.

Danes are consistently some of the very happiest rated people in the WORLD. And while it’s hard to prove specific causal relationships, it certainly appears as though the fundamental priorities and attitudes of Danish people and government, including a healthy respect for hygge, may be a big contributing factor.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I hear that people in a certain place are really happy, I think “whoa, I gotta learn from that!”

I find it genuinely thrilling. I get intensely curious. It’s exciting. It makes me want to deconstruct what they’re doing, and do whatever’s within my sphere of control to see if I can incorporate any of it into my own life.

With that in mind, here are some things you can try, right now, to have more hygge in your life:

#1!!! PRIORITIZE hygge. I don’t know what is, but you’re consciously or subconsciously prioritizing something in your life right now. You have some root command in your operating system. It may be pursuit of money, prestige, popularity, good grades, career advancement, or even video game success. But what I’d suggest is experiment with de-prioritizing whatever that is, and shifting gears towards focusing on coziness and togetherness, and just see how it goes.

I think that’s the most important thing. But here are some more hygge tips, tricks, and ideas:

  • Spend time with people you care about; make time for loving relationships. Oxytocin, the love hormone that I touch upon within this article, is an enormous factor in hygge. While cozy hygge feelings can be achieved alone, togetherness (i.e, tribe, relationships) is so, sooo important to hygge. It really makes all the difference. Prioritize your relationships and spend time in small groups with people you really enjoy. (Also, most of the tips below can be done alongside others, to really make them hygge.)

  • Take time to just relax, enjoy, be “lazy,” even if it doesn’t accomplish anything. Hygge isn’t about success, money, accomplishment – it’s about enjoying the now.

  • Treat yourself. Chocolate, baked goods, a movie, a bath, whatever you personally consider to be a treat – indulge.

  • Spend time in nature.

  • Light a candle; maybe take a candle-lit shower.

  • Have a hot cocoa with whipped cream, or coffee, or tea, and – as Matt Weiking says – “give it the attention it deserves.”

  • Snuggle up with a good book, and plenty of blankets and cushions. A cozy reading hour with friends is very hygge.

  • Vote for more Danish-like hygge-prioriziting policies.

  • Incorporate warm, cozy 2700k color temperature lights in your life.

  • Last but not least, spend time by a crackling fire. (Again, preferably with others.)

Well there you have it:) Those are my top hygge tips.

Take a moment to de-prioritize accomplishment, and focus on cozy contentment with other people you love.

But really, this is a short list, so I have to ask – what are your best hygge ideas? What makes you feel cozy and content?

Seriously, I’m curious. Let me know! Let’s see if we can create more hygge-centric lives.

With warmth and coziness,

Dolan

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Published by Dolan

Relentless self-optimizer, biohacker, traveler, reader.

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