Have you ever heard of the term “hygge?” Pronounced, “Hoo-ga,” it’s something that people from Denmark are experts in.
According to the book The Little Book of Hygge, written by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, “Danes are the happiest people in Europe according to the European Social Survey, but they are also ones who meet most often with their friends and family and feel the calmest and most peaceful.”
Since Danish people are said to be some of the happiest people in the world, we can all benefit from learning about Hygge and how to incorporate more of it into our own lives.
What is Hygge?
“A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”
Basically, hygge is a feeling, something you experience. It’s a vibe. Wiking writes, “Hygge is about feeling safe. It’s an indication that you trust the ones you are with and where you are” (Wiking, 202).
Some of us are fortunate to have a place we can go where we feel totally warm, safe, and at home. Whether it’s your parent’s house, your grandparent’s house, or your own house. The place where you walk in, and all of your worries melt away. The place where you know you are fully loved, welcomed, and accepted exactly the way you are. This is usually a place where you go to relax and rejuvenate. Some of your happiest memories are here, with your favorite people and favorite foods. It’s likely that you remember the way this place looks, smells, and feels.
This is not to say it’s a place. However, the feeling you get when you enter the place we just described. It’s when you feel the most safe and at home.
The Little Book of Hygge
This book was written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He is a professional in all things hygge, cozy, and joy. He writes the best advice from a local Dane you can imagine about how to cultivate a hyggelige life so you can ultimately experience joy and fulfillment.
The Taste of Hygge
One of the best ways to get the full experience is through your five senses. Starting with taste, there are many different flavors that can feel warm and cozy, but they all have one thing in common. They make you feel warm and cozy inside. “The taste of hygge is almost always familiar, sweet, and comforting” (Wiking, 197). Think of one of your favorite meals from home that you use to eat growing up. Or one of your favorite desserts your grandmother used to make.
Taste can either bring back familiar, comfortable memories, or it can simply soothe you and bring you joy. Tea with honey, cake with icing, stew with wine, fresh jam on toast. Whatever it is, it should have a bit of a sweet taste to it. It releases dopamine in your brain. Makes you happy, and brings you joy.
This is definitely something to consider when you’re intending to set a “hyggelige vibe.” You’ll definitely want to include cozy sweets. Nothing too over the top. Usually, baked fall goods are a grand slam. Vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, and spice. In my opinion, it really doesn’t get any cozier than these sweet flavors.
The Sense of Sound
Going off of the five senses still, sound plays a big role as well. Or rather a lack thereof. Usually, any sounds that are quiet and calm. Nothing too crazy. “The small sparks and dynamic crackles of burning wood are probably the most hyggelige sounds there are” (Wiking, 198).
Oftentimes, hygge actually has to do with the absence of sound. The ability to hear raindrops on the roof, or the trees in the wind. The calmness and quiet of an environment that feels safe and warm is the main idea here. The less additional sound stimulus the better. That way you can really listen and get in tune with the sounds of nature.
Hygge smells make you feel at home. The sweet aromas from a local bakery, the apple trees from your childhood garden, or the familiar scent of your parent’s home. The smells that make you feel at ease and cozy will vary from person to person. Oftentimes, the smell of home cooking or fresh baked goods makes people feel good.
Lighting a warm scented candle, or diffusing essential oils can be very calming and relaxing. The smell of firewood burning or stovetop potpourri simmering. All of these things are hygge. They make you feel comfy, cozy, and happy. That is 100% the intention of hygge. For you to relax, unwind and just chill.
Dim, moody lighting is the main goal with anything hygge. Think of a ton of candles with a dim, amber task lamp and the glimmer of a fireplace. This is hygge. Too bright and too dark are not hygge. The lighting must be JUST RIGHT.
In addition to lighting, viewing nature can be very hygge. For example, watching a fireplace burn, or the leaves fall from the trees during autumn, or the snow gently falls and blankets the ground. Slow, natural, organic movements are hyggelige.
If you’re decorating your home, you’ll want to consider the lighting as the starting point for hygge. Ask any interior designer, and they will emphasize how much lighting plays a role in the vibe of a room. It’s certainly one of the strongest elements with the most impact.
The Feeling of Hygge
Anything handcrafted, rustic, authentic, handmade is hygge. The overall feeling of soft, comfy, warm and soothing is hygge. Think antique, vintage, and things with a lot of history and character. European architecture is hygge. Small vintage home boutiques are hygge. The crocheted blanket your grandma made for your mother when she was a baby that got passed down to you. V Hygge!
This authentic, real, organic feel is hygge. It’s not about the fake glitz and glam. It’s about humility and story. This is hygge. It makes you feel whole and safe.
Cozy Vibes in A Box:
I’m guessing by now you’re probably sold. You’re ready to hygge the hell out of the rest of your day. Here are some hygge essentials you can store in a box and take out on a rainy day. These 13 things will definitely give you some major hygge vibes the next time you’re trying to relax, chill and get rejuvenated.
- Good Quality Chocolate
- Your Favorite Tea
- One of Your Favorite Books
- Your favorite film or TV Series
- Cozy Wool Socks
- Old Letters
- A Warm Sweater
- A Notebook
- A Soft Blanket
- Paper and a Pen
- Photo Album
As we mentioned, it’s not a place, object or person. It’s a feeling. It’s a vibe. The atmosphere and energy of an experience. There are many elements that can help create this feeling, but ultimately it comes down to you and your heart. When you feel safe and at home, that is hygge, and it can be with or without candles. Although the candles do really help lol.
Cheers to more hygge vibes and happier lives!