Hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment as cosy, charming or special. This can happen whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary. It’s about how the event makes you feel, not the event itself.
From Danish cookies, cheese and pastries to their culture of simplicity, politeness, and equality – they should have a pretty good sense of how cosy-charming-special truly feels! And, when life is handing us bagfuls of lemons, it’s encouraging to know that there’s a word for how we can adopt a strategy to cope; hygge is a fresh, yet traditionally sound, system to consider.
In Danish, it means “to give courage, comfort, joy”, but in the Old Norse, it stems from the words used for “to think” and “hug”. It’s an active word that quite literally wants to embrace. It’s a word that affirms everything will be okay, that we’ve got this, and that we’re going to make it through to the other side.
Hygge helps us find and acknowledge comfort, contentment and wellbeing in the current moment, and not feel like it’s an unobtainable future feeling. It’s wise to consider this when we look at our life plans. Planning can be very future-focussed and, if we’re not careful, transport us out of the present and into a future that may or may not happen.
But joy is found in the present; it’s not something that we work towards. Joy is something we choose for today. We shouldn’t be planning to be joyful; we should be planning from a place of joy. This is how we can muster up the courage to be present and not panic about tomorrow.
Courage is resilience put to the test. We’re living in an age that is calling us to be more courageous and more vulnerable. The awareness that courage and vulnerability go hand-in-hand is so new that many large businesses are still restructuring their leadership cultures. They hope to connect on a more engaging level with their teams and find more fulfilment, more hygge, in their corporate culture.
Hygge reminds us that it’s okay to wear track pants today, to stay in those comfy old socks and work from the couch. It reminds us that comfort foods (those cookies, cheeses, pastries and pasta…) help heal our emotional and mental states. It can be as simple as lighting a candle and surrounding ourselves with people and things we love.
We don’t have to swim upstream all day, every day. We need to take rest days, personal health days and pamper days. It’s about the attitude of comfort, not the cost of conformity.
Give yourself a hug – take a Hygge-Day.