Life is busy, and let’s face it: Many of us have extensive to-do lists taped to our refrigerators or shoved into easy-to-forget pocket planners. We all have an overwhelming amount of goals: Workout goals, clean-the-garage goals, and get-the-kids-to-school-on-time-everyday-or-else goals.
Well, here’s an idea for a little something different: Shove those old to-do goals aside and instead make this year about slowing down and loving life.
Take a few steps back from those stressful plans and instead schedule in time to be still, to enjoy time with family, and to search out peaceful moments throughout your day.
And the perfect way to do this is to master the art of “hygge,” an important element of Danish culture that has recently exploded as an amazing lifestyle trend!
So, want to learn all about hygge? Let’s dive right in. Hygge, which is both a Danish mindset and lifestyle practice, focuses precisely on being mindful and slowing down and has been sweeping across the States over the past three years. Pronounced “hoo-gah,” it loosely translates to feelings of coziness, togetherness, and the enjoyment of little things in life.
It’s a concept that comes like a breath of fresh air to the American culture of busyness, speed, and stress. Dating all the way back to the 19th century, hygge has been described as both a noun and a verb, and it embodies the lifestyle of the Danes in their approach to a happy and healthy mindset (though there is no direct English translation).
So how do you start incorporating more hygge into your lifestyle?
Don’t worry — it doesn’t mean you have to move to Denmark! In fact, the beauty of hygge is that it can be experienced no matter where you are.
Hygge is a concept that begins in the way you approach life. It doesn’t rely on buying nice things, but instead can be experienced in any situation.
With Denmark being recently declared the happiest country on earth, it seems like hygge is a key player in a healthier, happier, life. So if you’re looking for a way to begin, here are ten helpful tips to help you master the art of hygge!
Hygge Begins With These 10 Tips
1. Be Still
Wherever you are right now, take a moment to appreciate where you are. Put down your phone, turn away from your laptop, and take a deep breath.
Find ways to appreciate your day — whether it’s enjoying the beauty of the sunshine outside or breathing in the smell of that fresh cup of coffee on your desk.
One of the major aspects of hygge is the appreciation of small moments throughout your day. When you’re busy rushing around from one thing to the next, it’s almost impossible to notice those small life details. So as you delve into a hygge lifestyle, one of the best things you can do is be still.
2. Wear Something Cozy
It might surprise you, but you can even incorporate hygge into your fashion!
Instead of donning that scratchy top that looks nice but makes you feel uncomfortable all day, choose something that is made of a softer material and that fits comfortably on your body. Maybe it’s a sweater that you don’t normally think about or that pair of socks your Aunt Martha knitted for you.
You’ll be surprised by the way that an added touch of comfort can transform your day and lift your mood.
3. Tea & Coffee, Please!
One of the easiest ways to experience hygge during your day is to pour yourself a hot cup of your favorite Bergamot tea or enjoy the newest roast at your local coffee shop.
A hot drink can maximize your level of coziness on a chilly day, or it can set the mood for snuggling up with a blanket and a good book. So settle into a comfy chair, feel the steam waft towards you, and enjoy!
4. Clean That Desk!
Oh, snap! Wait, cleaning made it onto the list of hygge? I know what you might be thinking, but trust me on this one: a clean and organized desk will transform your work experience! Having a simplified and peaceful environment saves your brain from over-stimulation, and it cultivates a better atmosphere for getting things done.
Your work might still be the same old thing, but a fresh and friendly work space will help lower those stress levels and, in turn, give you more room to de-stress and breathe.
5. Invite Friends Over For Dinner
Part of hygge is enjoying the company of friends and loved ones, and taking the time to bring them closer to you.
Schedule a dinner once a week or once a month to have those closest to you stop by, enjoy a hot meal and tasty drinks, and feel loved and appreciated. The intimacy of small groups cultivates an atmosphere of comfort and safety.
6. Take a Walk
Sometimes it’s hard to squeeze in the time to be anywhere except work, meetings, after-school pick-ups, and reservations. But when you slow down enough to enjoy those small moments, you will be pleasantly surprised by all of the life details that suddenly catch your eye.
So whenever you have a few minutes to yourself, go for a stroll and breathe in the fresh air! Be mindful of potential distractions (like your phone) and take the time to observe life around you. Pay attention to small things that you may not normally pay attention to — like the buds on a tree or the shape of a cloud.
7. Cultivate a Happy Home
In a world of “Pinterest homes” and Instagram-worthy shots, sometimes it’s easy to think that the only reason for working on your home is to make it look nice enough to photograph. But really, the state of your home can affect the atmosphere caused by emotions and household activity.
When your environment is clean and peaceful, it frees up space in the mind to be still and thus, makes for a happier you.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go on a shopping spree to buy the latest stuff from the home goods department, but rather it means that you spend time cleaning and decluttering spaces.
Try finding ways to add elements that you enjoy — for example, buying flowers if colors inspire you, or scattering blankets here and there if you enjoy cozy materials.
8. Eat Well
And by “well,” I mean “without constantly estimating how many calories you’re adding or whether another forkful will increase your dress size.”
There are a thousand diets out there and a thousand opinions clarifying what is healthy and what’s not. “Hygge eating,” however, refers to those home-cooked meals that your great aunt used to make or those family recipes that sit forgotten in your kitchen drawer: roasted potatoes, slabs of ham, fresh bread right out of the oven… doesn’t the sound of that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
And it’s not just about the food itself, but about the mindset of eating — appreciating the meal before you and enjoying it for what it is, without the stress and anxiety of how it might affect your outward appearance. Eat well, and be kind to yourself.
9. Say Hello
Part of the Danish’s definition of hygge is the incorporation of time spent with people.
Although you can still experience hygge while curled up close to a crackling fire by yourself, if you go back to its original meaning, you will find that companionship plays an important role.
Hygge is that warm feeling you get when you spend the evening with your loved ones or chat with your best friend at a cafe. You experience a strong connection as you spend time with others and enjoy life’s moments with them.
So the next time you are out and about, say “hello” to your neighbor or invite your coworker to accompany you on your lunch break.
10. Enjoy Hygge, Rain or Shine
Sometimes the coziest evening activity is curling up with a friend by the fire as the rain pours down outside. Moments like this are perfect for appreciating the simple things in life and sharing the joy of a moment with a loved one.
For many people, a rainy day might be more of a source of stress than enjoyment, but when you look at it with hygge in mind, suddenly the pattering of rain is soothing and the glistening roads are beautiful to look at.
The art of hygge is a practice that can transform your everyday life into something beautiful and special. So no matter what the weather is like, take the time to connect with those around you and marvel at the beauty of the world you live in.
You can master the art of hygge in the simplest and coziest moments.
No matter what your current circumstances are like, you can enjoy the art of a hygge lifestyle in many simple ways! Start today, or start tomorrow.
Pour a cup of coffee in the morning and listen to the birds outside, or invite a friend over for dinner and appreciate the steam curling up from a bowl of hot soup.
I hope this has been helpful! Of course, these ten tips are just starting points in mastering the art of hygge, and there are endless ways to expand upon them. Cultivating a hygge lifestyle might just be the best new year’s goal you’ve ever set.