In last week’s podcast I talked about the Danish concept of hygge (‘hue-gah’), a set of guidelines for staying cozy in the long, dark winter months. About slowing down and paying attention to the little comforts that life has to offer. I talked about how the Danish create a cozy environment by wearing comfy clothes, like wool socks and chunky wool sweaters, and gathering to share food and good stories by the fire.
Too busy to read? Listen to the podcast instead!
But hygge isn’t just about creating a comfortable space. It is about creating relationships. Using the concept of hygge, the Danish are purposefully creating their relationships.
If you’ve been following my podcast, then by now I hope I’ve convinced you that human connectedness is what we as human beings, as social creatures, are supposed to be doing. It’s how we thrive, it’s how we keep healthy, and it’s how we have a good life. So, while we live out the years of our life, we may as well make it the best that we can. And having human connections is what gives us humans meaning.
What I see in hygge is a framework of how to live a meaningful life.
This quote sums up hygge best. It is from Iben Sandahl, a family therapist and the author of the book The Danish Way of Parenting:
“The phenomenon is difficult to explain to others. It has a special invisible energy, which is rooted in something in between you and the other – some kind of contact and the desire to be together, like a state of mind where you feel connected, filled with proximity and shared values transformed into a ‘we.'”
Just how do the Danish use hygge to build their relationships? First, and most importantly: they make hygge a priority in their lives. It is a conscious practice of gathering without any distractions in order to co-create an experience, together. They put away their phones and they engage in activity, together. It can be an outdoor activity, like taking a hike in the woods and sharing a home-packed lunch, or an indoor activity like working together on a jigsaw puzzle or playing a board game.
At Christmas my family was given a board game. Now, I’m a huge fan of board games – I was raised on them – but I missed out at the holidays as I was sick and couldn’t play. Well, as I lay on the couch downstairs I could hear my daughter and my husband and his whole family upstairs laughing and hooting and having such a great time! My daughter, who usually gets bored around an all-adult crowd, has been asking when we can go and visit them so that they can all play again.
So my challenge to you is this: Set aside a weekly hygge-inspired time with family and friends. And, to ensure it happens, put it in your calendar! You’ll be happy you did, and in no time at all you’ll be practicing a hygge life of your own without even trying.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to build your hygge life, download my free e-book called The Door Is Always Open for easy ways to bring friends and family together on the regular, helping to create and strengthen the bonds that are so very necessary for our overall health and happiness.
Until next week!