When I started my minimalist journey, I first came across the art of decluttering, followed by mindfulness and meditation. And then, I discovered a different kind of mindfulness.
Hygge is a concept that’s not easy to define, because it’s a feeling. For most people, it brings to mind words like ‘coziness’, ‘warmth’ or ‘togetherness’. And it is all of those things, wrapped up in an atmosphere of feeling safe, at home and at ease. It can be as simple as reading a book on a rainy day or spending time with a friend at a cafe.
We all experience these moments, but in our fast-paced society, we seldom pause to acknowledge them. Between smartphone screens and the music blaring from our earbuds, we’ve forgotten how to pause and really be present.
Some may see hygge as the latest craze, but it’s much more than that. I believe hygge is part and parcel of a mindful life.
The happiest nation
Hygge has its origins in Denmark, and it seems that the Danes are onto something. The European Social Survey states that Danes are the happiest people in Europe. They also meet up with their friends and family more often than others.
Before diving into this concept, I wondered if it was really possible to derive contentment from simple things like fairy lights or a warm cup of coffee. Yet, bit by bit, I incorporated hygge into my life by reading and learning about it, investing in two sets of fairy lights and taking the time to light my candles.
But as the term suggests, it involves much more than just material possessions. The most hygge moment I’ve ever had occurred with my family. Recalling the delicious food I’d eaten while in the Netherlands, I found a restaurant in my city that served authentic Dutch comfort food. I decided that I wanted to celebrate my birthday at this restaurant, as it was something new and different, but also quite familiar. And I hadn’t known it at the time, but it was actually very hygge.
In fact, the Dutch have a concept similar to hygge: gezelligheid. Gezelligheid is slightly different in that it’s more social than hygge and often happens outside the home. In Canada, we call it ‘homeyness’. If a situation or place feels like home, we call it ‘homey’ and comfortable.
It was a rainy January day, but we were warm and comfortable in the small Dutch restaurant. The lighting was dim, with soft candlelight, and we shared plates of Bitterballen, kaassoufflé and raw salted herring. When the poffertjes (mini pancakes with icing and butter) came our way, we recalled memories of the Netherlands, and my brother told me he’d forgotten how good poffertjes tasted. It was a moment of connection, memory and shared experience.
Hygge is the perfect solution for me when it comes to finding the simplicity and joy I crave.
Overall, it was a great experience, one that I’d probably refer to as ‘homey’. And it’ll always be memorable to me, because I was with family and I felt safe and at home.
Through my journey of simple living, I’ve been discovering that hygge is the perfect solution for me when it comes to finding the simplicity and joy I crave. It’s a more mindful, present way of being. It makes you appreciate the moment and the people you’re with. It reminds you of the little comforts in life: pastries, hot cocoa, good books, throws, a warm fire…
You can experience hygge anywhere
Hygge doesn’t just happen in the home, though. You can experience it year-round. It can happen in a cabin; or while hiking in the woods, sitting by a bonfire or lake, having a picnic with friends or cycling. All these activities are hyggelig because of their simplicity and the pleasant experiences they bring.
If you want to bring more hygge into your life and experience this Danish way of living, reading The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well is a great place to start.
We often experience hygge moments without even noticing, so the first step to incorporating hygge into our lives is to intentionally be mindful of it. To me, hygge encompasses not only togetherness, but happiness and mindfulness as well. All are important layers in the hygge cake!