Hygge – [mass noun] a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture) source: Oxford Dictionary
Now that winter is upon us, and the days are closing in, and the weather is cooler, rather than getting depressed about it, we can take a leaf out of Denmark’s book, and begin to look for moments of hygge. It was a way to help Dane’s get through cold and dark winters, to consciously be aware of the brighter moments in their day.
Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.
Hygge is a feeling that happens when you are together and having a great time, or maybe being alone and having a great time. It is not something you can buy or prepare for. It’s a feeling, and it can only be appreciated when you are living in the present moment, being completely present to whatever you are doing and whatever is happening.
It’s something you can’t plan for either. It’s the spontaneous board game where everyone ends up laughing and having fun, or the burnt dinner that turns into a pizza night. It’s like a feeling of being happy to be where you are and happy with your life.
You can buy the nice blankets and the cosy jumpers, even grab a good book. That’s not Hygge unless you are cosy and happy to be curled up on the couch. If you want to be out with your friends or want to be on the beach then that stuff is just stuff.
It’s really important to understand that Hygge is a feeling that you become aware of – you can’t find it and you can’t create it. If you are trying to find it or you are trying to create it… then it’s NOT Hygge. You don’t need to spend money, be in a special place or doing a certain thing to experience the feeling of contentment that Hygge represents. It’s inside you.
In 2016, alongside the words Brexit and Trumpism, Hygge was shortlisted as the word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries (the winner that year was post-truth). There are dozens of books available on Amazon with Hygge in the title. It’s a word that is going global. It’s a word for a genuine feeling of contentment, cosiness, happiness, wellbeing that is starting to be adopted in the US, the UK and here in Australia.
It’s a warm and fuzzy, beautiful feeling and it’s something that can only be experienced in the present moment, with our conscious awareness of it.
One of The Happiness Hunter’s comes from a Danish background. I asked her about Hygge.
She said: “I spoke to my mum about it once…..we were having fish and chips with the family…..everyone rocked up and there was noise and craziness and we all ate off the paper and talked over each other.
I mentioned to Mum that I had read an article about Hygge being about being a alone with an open fire and a glass of wine and she laughed. She said ‘This is Hygge! The family being together, sharing our meal and our lives.”
“We don’t hygge to be content, we find contentment in hygge. Hygge is… about pleasure, presence and participation.
― Louisa Thomsen Brits,
Happy Hygge to you this winter.
Fiona Redding is the founder of The Happiness Hunter, co-host of #BusinessAddicts The Podcast and author of The Happiness Hunter’s Guide to Meditation.
The Happiness Hunter will guide and empower you to change your life with the strategies, tools and mindset shifts required to live an abundant, successful and happy life, free of stress and anxiety.
Our services include life coaching and healing services, workshops, retreats, keynote presentations and corporate wellbeing programs with a focus on life integration instead of work life balance.
The Happiness Hunter also organises free community walks throughout Australia in an effort to increase happiness & wellbeing through human connection, nature & exercise, which is supported by a leadership network.