Hygge

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Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things.  It is about being with people we love.   A feeling of home.  A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.

-Meik Weiking, The Little Book of Hygge

In Denmark there is a concept called “hygge” (pronounced hue-ga) that has no literal translation into English. Some say the closest definition might be something like “coziness”, but it goes a bit further than that. Hygge is the intentional practice of creating a sanctuary of warmth and intimacy.  It’s about appreciating the simple things, cultivating small moments of comfort and joy in our everyday lives.  It’s about anticipating and celebrating the changing seasons of the year.  It’s about being grateful for what we have and savoring the simple pleasures that are available to us each and every day.  In short, hygge quietly elevates the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Hygge has left the shores of Scandinavia in recent years and has become something of an international phenomenon.  Several books have been written on the subject, and sales of faux fur blankets, sheepskins and candles have skyrocketed as companies seek to take advantage of our desire to find the comfort and security we so desperately crave.  As such, hygge is often dismissed as a fad, soon to be replaced by the next latest thing.

But to brush the concept of hygge aside as simply a fad is shortsighted and unfortunate.  We cannot underestimate the importance of creating a haven that welcomes us home at the end of each day, where we can relax and be ourselves without pretense. The quiet act of carving out a comfortable, compassionate space for ourselves and those we love can be revolutionary and deceptively powerful.

How can we create more hygge in our lives?  A good place to start is to simply pause and notice what’s going on around you, particularly the small everyday details we tend to take for granted.  Notice the warmth of a cup of coffee in your hands first thing in the morning.  The smell of rain and wet earth after a thunderstorm.  A glimpse of the moon peeking out from behind the clouds late at night.  The quiet, rhythmic breathing of your dog sleeping next to you.  Taking note of these seemingly small details can create a much needed moment of softness and comfort in our day, of feeling at home in the world.

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