This book will help you:
- Learn about the concept of hygge
- Value slowing down to spend time with loved ones
Denmark has consistently ranked as the happiest country in the world. Much of this happiness seems to be due to the central practice of hygge (pronounced hooga). Hygge is one of those words that are hard to define outside of its language, but it means something along the lines of cozy and homey togetherness. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down. You may be having an endless conversation about the small or big things in life – or just be comfortable in each other’s silent company – or simply just be by yourself enjoying a cup of tea.”
In this day and age, families are often so busy – parents working and children at school for long hours. Furthermore, time out of work and school is often occupied with homework and electronics, which leaves little time for quiet, non-pressured family time. It is hard to slow down – many people feel like they have to always be doing something and be productive. Even during off time, it’s hard not to feel like something should be done or worked on. Additionally, people can get caught up in materialism, busyness, or posting on social media to show everyone how awesome their life is. Hygge times can be an antidote to this rushed and product-driven lifestyle. Having unstructured time with family and friends can be rejuvenating and a chance to be in a different state of mind. For some people, time off can mean time to party and socialize in a high-stimulation kind of way. Hygge can be a different way to socialize, with the focus on simple pleasures, comfort, and low stimulation. Hygge is best accomplished in small social groups of 3-4 people, as opposed to a large, bustling party. For this reason, hygge can appeal to introverts as a way to socialize without excessive stimulation. Social supports and interaction have been shown by research to be large components to happiness and life satisfaction. We all have the need for feelings of belonging, being loved and cared for, and accepted by others. Making hygge a central practice, like the Danish have done, ensures that quality relationships are created and maintained.
Setting the stage for hygge may, but doesn’t have to, include dim lighting, candles, fireplaces, warm drinks, homemade food, and blankets, preferably with wind and snow outside. However, hygge times are really about enjoying the atmosphere and company. Imagine an evening where friends or family cook together, set up together, and clean up together in an informal way. The unhurried and collaborative experience is a process that is conducive to slowing down and taking a break from the fast pace of life. Hygge is about equality, with everyone participating in the preparation of the meal and conversation, with no one solely being responsible or dominating. Hygge is about the process of spending time together, with activities such as cooking, but not concerned with the outcome.
I think we all recognize that cozy hygge feeling and now we have a word for it. I have been thinking about how I can inject these elements more consciously and consistently in my life. I can set aside time for doing “nothing” with family or friends, with no requirement for productivity. Reading this book has made me more aware and on the lookout for making time for hygge.
Eta Feuerman-Yaeger, LMSW is a psychotherapist who works with children, adults, and groups, with offices in Queens and Brooklyn. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.