The Danish concept of hygge, or hyggelig (adj.), refers to finding comfort, pleasure, and warmth in simple, soothing things such as a cozy atmosphere or the feeling of friendship. The Scandinavian term encompasses a feeling of coziness, contentment, and well-being found through cherishing the little things.
“The true essence of hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness and it’s basically like a hug, just without the physical touch,” says Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets To Happy Living, and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.
The desire to live well is an integral part of the human condition, and it has been motivating mankind since the very beginning. What constitutes a good life may have changed and evolved over the years, but the desire for that good life has not.
Living Well and Loving It – A Look at the Hygge Trend
It is this desire to live well and stay connected that is at the heart of the hygge movement. And while hygge has been around for centuries, the movement has been gaining new respect, and getting a great deal of interest, in the past couple of years.
Hygge is not a product, and it is definitely not something you can buy. Rather, it is a way of life, and a unique way of looking at the world. The term is Norwegian in origin, but the movement has now spread around the world.
One of the defining elements of hygge is its communal nature. Instead of focusing on the well being of the individual, it encourages the entire community, and indeed the entire country, to adopt a simpler way of life and a happier way of living life. By making simple changes, individuals improve their lives, and those improvements trickle throughout the entire community, creating a sense of well being that permeates the entire society.
You can think of hygge is a type of philosophy, one that focuses on individual well being, a sense of community and an appreciation for the good things in life. Those good things are not necessarily material – in fact the concept sometimes takes on a decidedly anti-materialistic nature. Instead, it is all about taking time each day to focus on the things you love to do.
If you love to read, hygge gives you an excuse to curl up with a good book. In a relationship? Hygge provides you with a chance to reconnect romantically and enjoy some alone time. When you miss your family, hygge is an opportunity to leave work early and be with them.
Create Your Own Hygee Experience
Hygge means something different to everyone, and you can create your own personalized experience. In the end, however, hygge is all about feelings, and focusing on what makes you feel good. You can think of the movement as a combination of good feelings – from the comfort of home and family and the happiness of a life well lived to the gratitude you feel for your friends and colleagues.
Some have even likened hygge to a warm hug, and that is a good way to think about it. The fact that hygge extends beyond the individual to embrace the entire community is one of its chief attributes, so everyone can enjoy that warm feeling, no matter where they live or who they are.
Americans often liken hygge to the Thanksgiving day holiday, albeit without the turkey coma and huge feast. The pervasive sense of gratitude is at the heart of the hygge movement, so the Thanksgiving analogy is certainly an apt one.
Celebrate any Way You Wish
Whether you think of it as a self-help movement, a new kind of Thanksgiving holiday or a countrywide hug, hygge means something different to everyone. That means you can celebrate it any way you wish. The romantic can cuddle with their partners. Tired workers can curl up in front of the fire and relax after a long day. Frazzled parents can sink into a hot bath or treat themselves to a day at the spa. Animal lovers can take the dog for a walk or play with the cat. In the end, hygge is a deeply personal experience, and that is what makes it so special.
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