Close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine the environment in which you’d feel most at bliss. Capture that feeling—that’s the experience the word hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), procures. For some, it can mean curling up by a warm fire with a good book and some hot cocoa. For others, it can mean tanning by the beach, the ocean waves crashing faintly in the background. For me, it means going on a tough hike and treating myself to Chipotle after. However, we tend to keep these experiences as precious pockets of peace, reserved for special occasions. The true meaning of hygge invokes a lifestyle, characterized with multiple small moments in time and space when one feels at peace.
Originating from the Danish language, the concept of hygge is complex and has no direct translation in English. One can only try to describe it in terms of experiences and other correlating words. Cozy, comforting and tranquil are all adjectives one can use, but it’s much more than that. It’s a feeling that’s interwoven in day-to-day life. It is a true happiness in existing, and extending that happiness to family, friends and even strangers. Although associated with winter, hygge is omnipresent. It can be your motivation to go to work each day to a job that you love. It can be going on a walk and smiling at those who pass you by. It can be the small effort of making genuine conversation with a cashier. These are various experiences that are so minute, but have the potential to be life-changing. Exuding sincere joy can alter the energy of your environment in a positive way.
This isn’t to say that everyone has to be a cheerful ray of sunshine at all times. That is completely unrealistic and unhealthy, as well. Hygge accounts for this because it’s the fact that despite negativity, there are special moments—small, everyday moments—that can bring one’s mood up. Personally, I walk each day for an hour to clear my mind. I look forward to drinking my dad’s special co ffee in the mornings. I take comfort in spontaneous ice cream runs with my friends. These positive moments o ffset any negativity and help me remain content.
The concept of hygge can look drastically different from person to person. Don’t restrict it for special occasions; make it 24/7, 365 days a year. Whatever it means for you, channel those emotions into your daily tasks. Find a way to romanticize your life and make every day an event. Wake up your inner hygge.
-By Neha Shridhar