Denmark is often voted the happiest country in the world. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen thinks what sets Danes apart is hygge (pronounced somewhere between hugga or hooga). There is no one word in English that translates it directly, and Wiking spends the entire book attempting to define hygge, though he admits it varies from person to person. Simply, hygge is a feeling of coziness and safety and a sense of belonging.
Hygge is cuddling up on the sofa with a loved one, slow-cooking a meal with your closest friends, or sitting around a crackling fire with a glass of wine or hot cocoa. Turns out, I already live a lot of my life by the hygge standard. Who doesn’t love lots of candles, warm beverages, wool socks, and a sleeping pet on the bed? I’m always tempted to purchase yet another soft blanket, and my husband inevitably asks, “Don’t we have enough blankets?” According to hygge, the answer is a solid no!
For a self-help book, this one isn’t life-changing, it’s mostly just reaffirming. Unfortunately, it’s also comes across a little superior, what with all the chapters on why you should spend your weekends in a cabin in the country or why Christmas is so important. It must be great to have a 30-35 hour work week, free health care, free university education, and five weeks of vacation per year like the Danes.
For all that, I’m looking forward to adapting the winter-centric hygge philosophy to hot summers in Texas. Lazy afternoons in the river, barbecues in the backyard, pitchers of iced tea or fruity cocktails, and Shakespeare in the Park are so very hygge. Remember to savor the simple pleasures.
Recommended as a warm and comforting read if you’re feeling blue this winter!
“Live life today like there is no coffee tomorrow.”