Take a minute. Close your eyes. When was the last time you were truly happy? Are you picturing it? Are you smiling?
You may be picturing a time spent with family and friends. Or maybe even just a quiet moment spent by yourself. The Danish people would describe that as "hygge."
“Hygge” (pronounced HOO-ga) is a major aspect of the Danish culture and is loosely translated into a “mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality to feelings of wellness and contentment.” Hyyge is all about love, warmth and safety. It can be used as a verb, “Let’s hygge with friends tonight.” Or as an adjective, “What a hyggelig home you have!”
“What freedom is to Americans, thoroughness to Germans, and the stiff upper lip to the British, hygge is to Danes,” according to “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” written by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Hygge permeates Danish living. The workday for parents ends at 4 p.m. so they can pick their children up on time. No one else works much past 5 p.m. and rarely will you see someone at work on the weekend. Evenings are meant for family and friends, making good food and spending quality time with those closest to you. That's hyyge. And it’s one of the reasons why Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries worldwide.
Wiking calls hygge “a hug without touching,” as well as a “situation that you can be completely relaxed and yourself.”
So how can you hygge? It’s pretty easy, actually. In Wiking’s book, he describes what he calls the Hygge Manifesto: atmosphere, presence, pleasure and equality.
Hygge doesn’t need to cost any money. Use what you have around the house. Put some comfort food on the stove, grab a book and a blanket and cuddle with those you love (fur-babies, included). Be sure to light some candles. Take a deep breath, and hygge.