I Didn't Choose the Snug Life, It Chose Me

“Hygge.” Maybe you’ve heard of it, or maybe you have no idea how to say it (I still fall into both of those categories). Hygge is a noun pronounced ‘hue-guh,’ with a Norwegian and Danish origin that Oxford defines as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” If you’re like me, you were unknowingly exposed to this term when the hit Broadway musical Frozen previewed in Denver, featuring an entire Act II opener entitled ‘Hygge.’ The audience laughed, as did I, completely unaware of the prevalence of this lifestyle in Danish culture. (Give the comedic tune a listen here.)  

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According to the New Yorker, who deemed this the “year of hygge,” the word derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian word “hugga,” or “to comfort” (some may recognize this as similar to the English word ‘hug’). The Hygge House states that the Danish adapted hygge to survive the cold, dark and sameness of their lives. Since so many of their days were this way, a simple act of hygge made a difference in spirits. If maybe you’re still not getting it, here are many of the examples that keep coming up: hot cocoa in a warm mug, a large knit wool blanket, fuzzy socks, warm fireplace, wooden tables, candles, chunky sweaters, varying textures and calming colors.

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And the best part of all of this? Hygge works. The lifestyle is such an integral part of Danish culture that now, Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, says that “what freedom is to Americans…hygge is to Danes…” In fact, according to the Happiness Research Institute (where Wiking is also the CEO), Denmark is consistently among the happiest countries in the world. With the recent rise of hygge trends, there is even evidence of Danes feeling that hygge isn’t something you can buy, and it loses meaning when it’s used only to sell unnecessary products to hygge-hungry consumers.

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I know this all sounds so good, and you’re just thinking of ways to get all snuggled up and enjoy your own hygge. Here are some tips on how to embrace it.

  1. 1. Make a ‘hyggekrog,’ or snug

    Have a little nook for yourself, maybe something with a view of nature. Even better, add some pillows and blankets. Wiking says, “Our homes are our hygge headquarters.” So, get designing! Pinterest has some inspiring ideas on how to hygge up your life.

  2. 2. Light it up!

    Bath and Body Works candles? Of course. Fairy lights, perhaps? A must. Natural elements? Bring ‘em on. Fireplace (or maybe a three-hour-long video of crackling wood because your house doesn’t have one)? 100%. Even better, fire up a new passion or hobby within yourself. If knitting, a heck of a hygge craft due to its slow and calming pace, isn’t for you, look for other crafts that can help you slow down.

  3. 3. Simplify

    Think Ikea. Keep things simple and decluttered with a calm color scheme to create a peaceful space. Currently, my room is made up of beige, white, and gray-blues. I also changed my phone background to a hygge-like photo, and it makes me smile every time I open my phone! Spring cleaning for hibernation season, if you will.   

  4. 4. Hygge with loved ones

    Starting new traditions and being comfortable with others is critical to hygge. Since hygge also involves cherishing fond memories, start creating some with ones you like to practice ‘togetherness’ with, whether you realize it or not.

  5. 5. Live in a hygge-friendly city

    Lucky for those of us in Boulder, Denver is just down the road! See the full list of hygge hubs across the U.S., and start packing your bags now. 

Stay cozy!