Happiness is Second Nature to These Europeans
icture a familiar comfort you know; a reading nook in your home, a blanket to lie on surrounded by warm, sweet grass … A meal wafting through your kitchen. Friends laughing at your jokes. Remember how you appreciated each of these moments. Remember how they filled everyday life with love and joy. There is a name for this type of feeling, and you may have not even known it.
The Danish are widely known as some of the happiest people in the world, and the secret to their success has been spreading across the world with books and articles about the concept of hygge (pronounced hue-guh).
Hygge isn’t something tangible like a food, activity, or drink. It is more difficult to describe because it varies with each person. Hygge requires being in and enjoying the present and creating an intimacy with your surroundings. Whether you are with friends or by yourself, the Danish key to happiness is as simple as being aware of a good moment.
There is no direct English translation of hygge, but the idea can be described as coziness, familiarity, comfort or kinship. This could mean appreciating small or simple daily routines, like making a cup of coffee in a French Press or going to a flower or Farmer’s Market on a regular basis. Hygge is also about living a life connected with loved ones. Spending time with friends around a warm fire with cups of cocoa or enjoying each other’s company over dinner without someone mindlessly checking their phone, is a refreshing way to remember the intimacy you share with the people that are most important to you.
Lifestyles like hygge and its related Swedish concept “lagom”, embody balance and a “measured experience,” and they are ways in which to simplify what’s important to you and to keep the negative feelings out. Appreciating the everyday routine rather than seeing it as a chore is at the core of what hygge expounds. You may hate making your bed or ironing clothes but instead of focusing on the negative aspects of doing those tasks, focus on the good. The neatness of a made bed compared to a messy tangle of sheets. The instant gratification of getting a wrinkle out of a shirt with the hiss of an iron.
Although there is no specific “hygge food”, there are still things you can do to embrace this lifestyle. For people who appreciate cooking for themselves and their friends, here are some suggestions to get you started:
Group Dinners: Nothing embodies hygge quite like gathering your friends together for a great dinner that is enjoyed and made by all. As winter approaches and the air gets cooler, cozying up with loved ones to make a great meal exemplifies what is important in life. Whether it’s whipping up some Italian meatballs in the crock pot, a more traditional Danish dish, frikadeller, or a comfort food of your choice, enjoy the moment surrounded by good food and good friends.
Appreciate cooking for yourself: We’ve all been there. You’re home by yourself and trying to figure out what you want for dinner. You have all of the ingredients, but that take-out pizza menu or Postmates coupon code is calling out to be used. The motivation to cook for one can be hard to muster but take the time to find a recipe that sparks your interest and run with it. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there is no greater satisfaction than using your own two hands to cook a delicious meal even if it’s only being enjoyed by one person. Tired of making homemade granola or smoothies for breakfast? Try these Danish inspired double chocolate rye muffins with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
Warm, comforting drinks: Speaking of tea and coffee, hot beverages are a great way to get you in the right state of mind to practice hygge. Snuggle up with a good book and a cup of your favorite tea, mulled wine, or hot cocoa, relax and enjoy the stillness of the moment. Take your book out to the beach and watch the sunrise or take a long walk with loved ones. By adopting hygge into your life, ordinary moments can be ways to appreciate the smaller things in life that go mostly uncredited in their balancing effect.