What is hygge?

As I looked at various explanations of hygge online, I discovered a great blog (hygge.co blog) which I really like.  The blogger uses words that resonate with me, such as sanctuary, community, well-being, belonging and celebrating the everyday.  Those words convey a sense of creating a spiritual practice of gratitude, connecting with others, feeling a safe space and living whole-heartedly. Things that make your spirit sing or make you feel alive are hygge.  Hygge has to do with extraordinary pleasure in the daily aspects of your life.   It’s being present in the moment.

The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. Celebrating the everyday.                                                     http://hygge.co/

Over the past two months, the Danish word hygge (“heu-gah” or “hY00-guh”) has captured my attention in various posts on social media. It was a new term to me. What exactly is hygge?  It is not easy to translate.  I saw a video tour of Copenhagen with Danish people rating hygge experiences on a 1 – 10 scale.  It appears the Danish consider time with others, whether friends or strangers, an important part of hygge.  Many also expressed a feeling of comfort and warmth, no matter what the season.   Riding a bike or sitting in an internet cafe, sipping cappuccino with strangers while you wait for your laundry to finish drying in the adjacent laundromat can be a hygge experience.

7 savor the momentHygge is often translated as coziness or a good social atmosphere.  It reminds me of the happy nostalgic feeling I get when the Christmas lights twinkle, the fire crackles in the fireplace, quiet music plays in the background and the mug of hot chocolate warms my hands as I laugh and share stories with family and friends.  I’m nestled in my favorite chair with a warm fleece covering me.  The snow gently falls outside, blanketing the yard with glistening crispness from the moonlight.  The deer and wild turkeys wander by, content in the peacefulness of the night.  Now that’s hygge to me.

Why is hygge capturing social media’s attention this year?   I believe it has to do with three areas: connection, refuge and the sensory aspects of the experience.   I believe there is a deep longing for connection to others beyond the contact that happens at work or on social media.  We want places where we can enjoy hanging out together in person. Tailgating during football season, joining a monthly book group or meeting a friend for coffee at Starbucks fills the void of loneliness for some people. Others build sun rooms or family rooms so they can entertain large groups of people. You feel loved because of the camaraderie surrounding you.I believe there is also a desire to create a personal refuge, surrounded by our favorite mementos, where we can escape to read a book or watch TV or create art.  That’s why some people create a den or a “man cave” or an art studio in their home as their personal space.  When you create this type of safe haven in your home, it becomes a sanctuary for your spirit.   Solitude feeds your soul, especially when you need respite from the daily demands of life.I also believe society is drawn to the sensory experience of hygge.  You feel the warmth of the mug of hot chocolate.  You smell the traditional holiday food cooking in the oven.   You see the lights, hear the laughter, taste the decadent foods you save for special events or touch the arm of the person beside you as you talk.  These rich sensory experiences connect your body with your mind and spirit, which increases your well-being.  Balancing your mind, body and spirit creates hygge.

fountainA friend who works from home recently moved her office space to a different room.  She mentioned how important it is for her to look out the window and see nature.  In this new space, she also added a small water fountain because she loves the sound of water.  She purchased a full-spectrum light to help lift her mood during the dreary Indiana winter.  She has a stack of rocks from a recent retreat, reminding her of community.  She is creating hygge by intentionally creating a sanctuary (cozy space) in her work area.
How do you create hygge in your home and work space?   Are there changes that would make your space feel more like a sanctuary?  Start by making a list of the things that stimulate your senses or evoke a warm cozy feeling when you are with others.  Some of the Balance Resource Cards suggest bringing nature indoors or creating a sacred space or savoring a cup of tea for starters.   Add a small business card holder on your desk or end table for a few of the cards from your deck as reminders to balance your mind, body and spirit throughout the day.
How would you define hygge?  Share your ideas and comments below!
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DW Healing Arts

On a quest for healing and wholeness.

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