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You may or may not have heard the term hygge before. It is a huge trend with bloggers and many minimalists right now, and I only recently learned of it. hygge is a Danish word that doesn’t really have an equivalent in English, but essential means cozy. Danes use hygge as an adjective and a verb, and it is a mindful practice of making their homes and habits relaxing and comfortable. Not only is it cold in Denmark, they only get a couple of hours of sunlight per day in the winter. That could be downright depressing without a plan to make things as cozy and relaxing as possible.
First of all, let’s cover pronunciation. Hygge is pronounce HOO-gah. Not higgy or HI-gee.
As soon as I heard about hygge I wanted to learn more so I got the book The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Now, this book isn’t exclusively about hygge, but it details the year that Russel’s husband (known as Lego Man in the book) took a job in Denmark and moved them from South London to the Danish countryside. It’s a fun, humorous read that gives you real insight into how Danes live and why they are deemed the happiest country on earth. I devoured the first few chapters, but as I got farther into the book it drug a bit. This author never encountered a situation she didn’t feel deserved a thorough Google and perhaps even a case study. Nevertheless, it’s a thorough look into living amongst the Danes.
I’ve also been reading Hygge by Charlotte Abrahams. This book also cites a lot of studies and statistics, but goes a little more in depth into the social aspect of hygge. Friends cooking dinner together, families choosing specific nights to turn off screens and cook dinner and chat. It was a bit of a snooze to read since I had just covered many of the same facts in the previous book I read, but it did expound a bit more on the specifics of hygge. I thought it was interesting that in this book she focused a lot more on the social aspects of hygge, and how a sense of community is important.
So my takeaway is that there is no real, solid definition of hygge as it relates to an American lifestyle, but there are so many ways we can apply it. Start by visualizing a relaxing evening. Is there a fireplace? Flickering candles? A Cozy blanket? This is hygge.
I have been a minimalist for a long time, so I have always been aware about how the state of my home affects my mental health. When I heard about hygge I knew instantly that I wanted to incorporate this into my life and home. I am an introverted home-body who primarily works from home, so I spend the vast majority of my time within these 4 walls. Making my home as pleasant as possible is a high priority for me.
Through minimalism and decluttering I have gotten rid of a lot of the knock knacks and “softer touches” in my decor scheme. When I first started instituting hygge into my routine, I wanted to see what I already had and be purposeful about bringing anything else into my home. My favorite way to hygge is sitting on my couch with a blanket and my Kindle. This is my dogs’ favorite way to hygge too (they have turned the electric blanket on themselves before. “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”). Sometimes I have a hot mug of tea beside me.
My Hygge Spot
After a couple of weeks I decided I needed to purchase a couple of things. I ordered a side table so I could place a lamp beside the couch. As Jenny Mustard said, “Overhead lighting is where hygge goes to die.” I already have a lamp I can put here, and I can add a couple of candles. I also ordered some warm socks because with a teenage daughter in the house mine magically disappear. I picked up this pot of wheatgrass in my grocery store for $3. I love the touch of greenery!
The only thing left that I would like to add is a pretty throw blanket for my couch. I have an electric blanket that travels from my bed to the couch with me, and let me tell you your life is not complete if you don’t have one. But it isn’t exactly pretty flopped on my couch when not in use. And as the weather (hopefully) warms up, I don’t think I will want or need an electric blanket to stay cozy. This is where my minimalist side kicks in, so i am being really mindful about what I choose to bring into my home. It could be a while before I find the perfect throw.
How to Get Started
Hygge isn’t necessarily about adding a bunch of things to your home, but rather just being mindful about what is there and intentionally fostering a calm, relaxing atmosphere. All you need to get started is a cup of your favorite warm beverage, maybe a pair of comfy socks, a blanket, a book … whatever sounds relaxing and cozy to you. Spend time making things from scratch and savor the process. Cook dinner as a family, and for pete’s sake turn off the TV.
Want to start incorporating hygge into your life? I recommend reading The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg first. Hygge can be individual for each person, but everyone can benefit from adding a bit of coziness to their lives. The side effects I have noticed are: watching way less TV, reading way more books, slower, calmer days, and suddenly I am googling fairy lights. My husband and daughter have even started picking up their Kindles at night – although there is still plenty of TV and Xbox happening, we are making progress.
Have you ever heard of hygge? Do you already practice hygge? I would love to hear about your own routines and practices that help make your home and life as cozy and relaxing as possible.