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The Hygge Life

Every January I pull out my notebook and write a list of New Year’s resolutions. But this year is different. My ONLY resolution for 2023 is to live a more Hygge life. But what does hygge mean? And how do you live a “hygge” life?

Hygge is a Danish word that is pronounced “hoo-ga.” According to The Oxford Dictionary, hygge is “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being'. Often, when we hear the word “hygge,” we think of Denmark, since hygge is regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture. Denmark continuously ranks among the world's happiest countries. So, let’s explore the Danish people’s secret to happiness and how we can cultivate it at home.

What is Hygge

The Danish concept of hygge has inspired many discussions, articles, and books over the years. In brief, hygge is about taking time away from the daily rush to spend time with family and friends, while enjoying life's simple pleasures. It refers to an atmosphere of warmth and peace, often with dimmed lights, candles lit, or a fireplace going. It is the enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures with the people who matter most to us. Hygge is also about surrounding yourself with the things that make life wonderful, like friendship, laughter and safety, as well as more concrete things like warmth, candles, tea, and sweet little dogs.

How to “Hygge”

I heard someone say that we must create a “To Be” list and not a “To Do” list. This to me is the essence of how to cultivate hygge in our lives. Hygge is about connecting with others so:

  1. Spend time with family, friends, and pets. Invite a friend over for a cup of tea. Enjoy good conversation, light a candle, and bring out cute napkins! Read that book under a cozy blanket with your pet.

  2. Enjoying pampering yourself. A bath with lots of bubbles, a massage, or a haircut are great ways to practice self-care.

  3. Taking time for reflection. I often find myself complaining that time is going by too fast, that the kids are growing up too fast, or that I don’t have time for this or that. But taking time to breathe and reflect with a hot cup of tea and a little sweet treat (nicely prepared by my husband) before the rush of the day makes life go by a little bit slower.

  4. Spending time in Nature. Finding places that are peaceful and quiet invites peace. Spend time in your garden watering plants and looking after your flowers, going on a morning hike, or sitting on a hillside.

  5. Cooking and enjoying good food and drinks. Hygge is about quality time alone or with others, so spend time preparing a meal for others, or just yourself. Nothing says I love you more than a well-prepared meal or drink. When my son makes his famous Spaghetti Bolognese, then the world has no problems!

I look back at one of the definitions of hygge traced back to the Middle Ages, where the word meant "protected from the outside world." I raised my children with the understanding that home was truly a place of peace and refuge from the outside world. A place where they were loved and accepted and where they enjoyed their favorite foods.

As you finish reading this and head back to your busy day, remember to slow down, appreciate the little things in life, spend time with the people you love, and take time for yourself. Let’s hygge together!

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