The Danish concept of hygge has in recent years taken the world by storm and according to Collins Dictionary it has been one of the most popular words used (alongside Brexit and Trumpism). But although often translated as ‘cosy’ it is about so much more than candles and fluffy socks. In fact, it has the power to change your life for the better and is thought to be one of the main reasons why Scandinavia always tops the United Nation’s ‘World Happiness Report.’
So what does hygge actually mean? The word originates from the old Norse ‘hyggja’ which means different things including to ‘see’, ‘view’ and ‘believe’ The Vikings made sure to export their language and the word where ever they went and the English word ‘hug’ is in fact thought to derive from hygge, and in many ways this can help illustrate the power, beauty and complexity of the concept.
A hug can be the most wonderful thing – but only if you have already established a connection with the other person and really like them. If not, then the hug is purely a mechanical act of embrace and might even feel a bit awkward. The same goes for hygge; it’s all about the connection either to yourself, the moment, other people and/or all of these combined.
People often think hygge is all about having the fire burning whilst snuggling up on the sofa with your favorite meal or drink but that is just the physical aspect of hygge which in fact can be seen as cosy. But hyggeitself goes much deeper because it’s a feeling and a state of mind.
Now don’t get me wrong, a few candles, some fresh flowers and ambient lighting is always nice to help create an atmosphere, but the true power of hygge lies within you and hygge can be experienced no matter where you are and give you a great sense of calm and true joy. It can help reduce stress levels and make you feel more content. But also, very importantly, it can help you get back in touch with your true self and help you find your flow to navigate through life with more ease and happiness.
I love using hygge as part of my personal development work because it’s a great way to start tuning into yourselfand working with mindfulness on a very practical level. Because it’s all about the moment and allowing yourself to be fully present with no expectations of how it will develop or how long it will last. For example, you may decide to make yourself a cup of tea and snuggle up on the sofa with your favourite book (and yes, you may have put on your fluffy bed socks and lit those candles too!). The feeling of ease and contentment that you may experience is hygge.
Hygge may also be when you’re sitting chatting withgood friends and time just flies. When you are all so busy being in the moment that you forget to check your phones or watches. Because hygge is also very much about allowing yourself the time to be fully in the moment and to enjoy it for what it is.
True hygge is about embracing the here and now and not worrying about when or if it will stop. It just is, and it’s all about accepting the moment for what it is, not judging it, and then allow your heart to open to it, yourself and those around you. Once we can understand that, we can move on to see every single moment as special, because we can only live in there here and now.
So why not take time out today to create some hygge in your life? Just unplug, allow yourself to be fully in the moment. It can be as easy as enjoying a cup of tea out of your favourite cup whilst watching the clouds float by and just allow yourself to embrace that moment fully.
There is of course a whole lot more to explore in order toutelise the true power of hygge, and my free Facebook group called Happiness Health and Hygge, where I offer daily inspiration and free weekly talks, is a great place to start: https://www.facebook.com/groups/happinesshealthandhygge
I hope you have a great day and a lifetime full of happiness, great health and lots of hygge too.
Dorte Johansen is a Danish writer, performance and movement specialist, passionate about the environment, good food, mindful sustainable living and of course ‘hygge’. She has lived and worked all over the globe before moving to the UK with her English husband in 2004.
Specializing in environmental, lifestyle and personal development issues, she has worked for the BBC, CNN as well as local broadcasters, and written for several magazines in both Denmark and the UK. In 2009 she transitioned to work with communications in a healthcare setting and became involved with the Harmony In Health concept in association with The College of Medicine and The Harmony Project as set out by HRH Prince Charles.
Dorte lives in Surrey with her family and if she’s not busy creating healthy yet delicious recipes, or tending her allotment, she can be found teaching seminars and workshops worldwide.