The first time I heard the word “hygge” was when someone was talking that this was the word of 2016 – according to Oxford dictionaries. Why should I care? But then I started seeing this word everywhere, and decided to understand what’s the fuzz about it!
- The word “hygge” of Norwegian origin can mean a lot of things, from well-being, hug, to embrace or to comfort, mood… There’s not an official translation. However, it was adopted by Danish people as a concept and lifestyle of comfyness, normally associated with hot tea, woollen socks and a fireplace. That’s what I’m gonna focus on.
I started reading “The little book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking – it’s a really fun book that explains what this lifestyle means. If you’re interested in understanding a little bit more about hygge, I recommend the book!
- Meik Wiking is a word-famous Danish CEO of the Happiness Research Institute.
Enough of introduction, let’s get to it!
What the f* is HYGGE?
In the book, Meik describes hygge as an atmosphere, an experience; it’s not a thing that you can buy. But what EXACTLY is it, then?
To understand it, let’s discuss the elements of hygge:
1. The cosiness, created by a well thought environment;
In the book he really stress the importance of light for a cozy environment. That’s why we see a lot of candles, fireplace and design lamps in hygge places. Danish are really into design, and comfort doesn’t necessarily has to be tacky.
2. The togetherness, being with people you love;
Spending time with the people you love is great! But hygge is spending quality time, no cell phones, nor drama; today you’ll be in peace!
3. Food, lot’s of comfort food.
Cake, coffe, and anything that consoles your belly.
Together, these elements create a place of comfort and safety – that’s hygge!
In a practical way: invite a couple friends (or family), light some candles, cook some slow comfort food together and milled wine while playing some board games next to the fireplace.
Where does hygge come from?
Well, as you might have noticed, this lifestyle is really connected to cold and rainy days… which covers most time of the year at Nordic countries. According to the book, they have perfected the art of well being, of making cold and “depressing” days somehow nice and therefore creating this warmth inside you.
Meik also points out that this is because the feeling of safety in the society, which I think is crucial. If you can trust that your basic needs are gonna be fulfilled, you can then truly focus on your well-being.
But can this concept be recreated in other places and societies? Yes! You can follow the hygge manifesto, or you can also think about what in your culture makes you feel comfortable and safe.
As a Brazilian, I can’t really replicate the Danish way of hygge because of the weather. Lighting candles and fireplace doesn’t really work for most of my country. But what I can really associate with this feeling of hygge are the family reunions at Sunday’s lunch. Listening to my aunts laughing out loud and playing cards while eating cake and drinking coffee – yes, we do have this in common with Danish! We looove cake and our coffee!
Why is this so big?
We’re living in a world where things happen really fast; technology pushes you to learn so many things all at once! We’re consuming new technologies, series, fashion trends, etc, in a level never seen before.
Our levels of stress are growing strong, and being up-to-date takes a lot of our time; and we end up forgetting about our well being and others.
That’s when hygge values become so important! Even if you don’t have woollen socks, a fireplace or candles. The main thing about these values is to decelerate, do things slow – cook slow and yummy food-; practice empathy – treating people as equals-; focus on what makes you feel happy – it can be enjoying the moment with a few friends or the entire family -; add meaning to the moment – creating a great experience out of usual daily tasks!
These values are there to make us feel more engaged and appreciative of the moment. You don’t create happiness, it’s already there, you just gotta stop and feel it!