When I began traveling to France over 15 years ago, I fell in love with so many aspects of the French culture. From the food to the perfume, there was something new and exciting everywhere I tuned. Everything was magical. Things ran at a slower pace. I learned what cultivating a life for yourself meant.
This was in no small part due to the French believe in Joie de vivre. The joy of life, the joy that can be derived from simple acts such as conversation, eating, and simply existing. Joie de vivre is all about possessing joy through one’s whole being.
An idea that I have tried to adapt to my adult life these many years later as well. Which is no small task? Being Americans, we are constantly inundated with media portrayals, consumerism, and cultural backlashing that tells us that modern technology and networking trumps friendship, connection, and experience.
Even our language has not been able to escape this trend. For American English over the past 20 years has become a cornucopia of abbreviations, pointless emoticons, and falsified expressions. Thanks in no small part to the simple, artificial act of laughing out loud.
What is Hygge?
We also love our shortcuts. We like everything fast. We eat fast, work fast, live fast, and relax even faster.
A way of living that often leaves me feeling tired and drained in more ways than I care to admit. Which is why when I came across the Danish term, Hygge, (pronounced hue-guh), the Danish terms used to describe a feeling or moment, whether alone, with friends, or at home, of extraordinary coziness and charm, my Joie de vivre deprived soul sang out loud.
Moreover, this same concept plays well into my minimalist moral compass. As Hygge doesn’t require learning buying anything. As it is simply the acknowledgment of one’s relationships, surroundings, and comfort.
Why Hygge is so popular?
Hygge is less about learning and adopting and more about feeling and promoting self-care.
Hygge is also life-affirming. A mindset based on affectionate compassion. Consider the harsh, cold, bleak Scandinavian Winters. Days that are dark by mid-afternoon. Hygge allows Danes to make the best of abysmal conditions.
By pulling together a home with friends and family, beautiful candles, comforting foods, and drinks, the soul can be recharged and reaffirmed. It’s a change in perspective. A mindset reversal. A true, social game-changer. Afterall, have you ever felt your worst sitting by the fire, sipping tea, around your nearest and dearest?
I cannot tell you how revolutionary this idea has been to my life. How I love using Hygge to embrace the things I love at home. Especially in winter. Which is why I’d love to share with you 9 ways you can naturally, minimally, and affordably bring the spirit of Hygge into your home this season too:
Make your house a home: Starting the path of Hygge most often begins with a simplified interior design. A design that is both cozy and function for you and your family. This means pairing down belongings that do not bring you joy, displaying the things that do and learning to know the difference. A few warm rugs, books, or cultivated cups and accessories can go a long way. Create a statement of who you are within your home. Regardless of your income level.
Buy with a purpose: Danes are nothing if not thrifty. Favoring the idea that it’s better to save up for that favorite furnishings in lieu of buying something they don’t really like just because it’s cheap. Bring items into your home only if they are both beautiful and bring purpose and utility to you and your family’s week.
Resect your home: Instill a sense of respect in your children for the home you have built and the things that help make that house a home. In many Danish homes, kids don’t run the household. Parents dictate behavior. Allowing kids to have designated play spaces, meal stations, and smaller, decluttered bedroom spaces. All done in a way that allows kids to enjoy their childhoods and parents to enjoy stylish, cozy interiors. It’s all about letting them know early on that a home needs to be shown some respect. An idea that permeates well into their adult years, too.
Be a great host: Treat others in your home the way you would want to be treated. Always ask your guests, upon entering, if they want food or drink. A show of great manners is the first step to being a cozy, caring, warm person. Because you set the tone and temperature of the atmosphere within your home.
Learn to linger: This lesson was one of the hardest for me. As an American, we are often rushing out the door eating or are in the process of cleaning up from a dinner party before our guests have actually started leaving our homes! Dinners and meals, in general, can be made to feel more hygge when you start seeing he act of breaking bread as less a chore and more a celebration. That meals are to be mindful. That company is the premium. That nourishment is the truest expression of love. None of us are so busy that we can’t make time to enjoy being with those whom we love. Slowing down will be difficult at first, but if you practice mindful eating, you will learn to love lingering. And this intentionality will love you right back!
Be grateful: The grass will always be greener in your neighbor’s pasture until the day you stop to see how green your fields already are. A home filled with Hygge is already as green as the owner desires it to be. Sure, you may desire new things, but you cannot lose sight in the bigger picture. A sense of contentment is important. Perfect is boring. A life of gratitude is superb.
Share: In a Hygge home experiences are shared. Guests bring food. Hosts allow help in the kitchen. Family entertains one another. Every thoughts, idea, and expression is equally validated. No one needs to internalize sentiments or tear others down to make their points known. Coziness is knowing your opinions, customs, beliefs, and traditions can be safely shared.
Light candles: Candles can turn even the smallest and most dank spaces into a warm and inviting oasis. Each evening, light a candle. They instantly create a mood and can transform your senses.
Embrace who you are: Learning to love who and what you are, is one of the easiest and most important ways to bring Hygge into your home. Embrace your humanity. Give yourself the grace to know when you need to be still and quiet. Give yourself the option to unwind and relax. You deserve to take time out each day just to have some tea, do yoga, read a chapter of a book, whatever works best for you. This is the very essence of what Hygge is. A pause. A moment for yourself. A time to let your soul catch up to your body. A time of self-care you should give yourself today!
While there are so many more things that I could add to this list, these are just some of my favorite ways to embrace Hygge in your home this Winter. I hope this list will inspire you to think outside the box when it comes to embracing a home, mindset, and lifestyle reflective of love and self-care for yourself, and others, this season.
Now I want to ask, what’s your take on Hygge? Do you have any favorite ways to add coziness to your home and life? If so, I’d love to hear all about them below!