I’m sure you’ve heard of hygge by now, right? (It’s properly pronounced like this.) If not, allow me to introduce you to what is supposedly the Danish secret to happy living.
In perusing the pages of A Little Book on Hygge my animosity towards storms, struggles, and the drab days of winter is already on the decrease. Every culture has their particular word for describing a cozy, homey feeling, but for the Danes it seems hygge is a bit of a healthy obsession.
Hygge is a noun and also a verb. It can describe socks and a coffee shop. It is the decor goal in every gathering place and office space, and as the Danish author, Meik Wiking, noted, “an integral part of the national DNA.”
Furthermore, adds Wiking “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling the that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.”
Hygge isn’t only about placing soft lighting in corners of our living room or making sure there are flickering candles on the windows sills. It goes beyond fuzzy blankets and soft rugs, a crackling fire, hot tea, or good company.
It’s only a hunch, but I believe hygge is a trait we can harbor within our heart and it is the reason why we’re all captivated by the happy Danes. Denmark has consistently ranked as a leader in the World Happiness Report since 2012.
Although I have no plans of immigrating to Denmark just yet. I do know I’m about to become a hygge convert!
How could we resist a good dose of hygge into our bloodstream? Isn’t it what we’re all looking for when we wander around the land of social media, or light our favorite candle, or visit with a friend over a cup of something warm?
Before the temperature drops, the décor is just so, or kindred spirits throw up their socked feet on our couches, we all have an opportunity to first establish hygge in our soul.
Here are a few practices I’ve been trying to work out in my own life as I translate happy living into an internal posture. Adorning the home of our heart with hygge transforms us into the safe, warm, and welcoming people we know the world needs.
- Embrace my contradictions and be curious of the paradoxes I notice within myself.
- Celebrate my successes without needing the accolades or praises of others. Although encouragement is helpful, it is not a sustainable way to fuel my creative soul. Or in the words of author Erin Loechner,“We are doing ourselves no favors when we look to the crowd to tell us who we are.”
- Be a non-anxious, peaceful presence. Do more deep breathing instead of emotional reacting.
- Dare to have a quiet heart instead of always rushing to words to fill the gaps. As I heard it said by Brene Brown, “Listen with the same passion with which you want to be understood.”
- Regularly lean into the interior silence. I am loving these reflections on silence from the Center for Action and Contemplation this week, “When religious folks limit their focus in prayer to external technique and formula, the soul remains largely untouched and unchanged. Too much emphasis on what I call “social prayer” or wordy prayer feeds our egos…”
- Notice similarities with people I consider “others” instead of staying hung up on our differences. I have this jotted down in my journal, a quote from Sebastian Junger, “If you want to make a society work, then you don’t keep underscoring the places you’re different – you underscore your shared humanity.”
- Extend hospitality to myself. Be at home in my own skin. David Benner writes, “We must befriend the self we seek to know. We must receive it with hospitality, not hostility.”
- Take the risk of vulnerability in secret first. Accessing those deep parts of myself through writing and prayer, will make it easier to share with other trusted companions.
- See this world as kind and benevolent not a cesspool of evil and hatred. Never tire of unearthing the good and acknowledging the beauty.
Which one will you start to put into practice this week?