The Art of Hygge—or Why the Danes Are So Happy
Acceptance is a key ingredient to being happy.
Posted Dec 30, 2016
According to the World Happiness Report 2016, Denmark is the happiest country on the planet. If you're thinking it's because they have great health care, a substantial gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, an overall high life expectancy, social support, freedom, generosity and little corruption -- the criteria for happiness in this report -- then you are right. They do. But they also have something else that I discovered the other day that is so aligned with the notion of Slow, I simply had to tell you about it.
You see, the Danes, aside from their fabulous butter cookies, have something that a lot of us do not. They have the notion of hygge, which sounds a lot like "hoo-guh", which, in turn, sounds a lot like a cave man with a slight Irish lilt demanding a hug.
But that isn't it at all, my friends. Hygge is the idea of going slow in the winter time. It is roughly translated to mean "coziness" (in German: Gemütlichkeit). After all, it gets light late and dark early for five months out of the year in Denmark. Yet they aren't SAD from all that light deprivation (afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder). They are HAPPY. Thanks to the mental state of hygge.
Hygge says to embrace That Which Is; accept the darkness and leverage it to create a cozy atmosphere. Light candles, slow down, go within, reflect. Celebrate the now. Give yourself what you need - a visit to the sauna, healthy vitamin-rich food, warm meals, a fire in the fireplace, a hot water bottle at night, heat.
My daughter has set up her room such that her bed is in a darker corner of the room so the streetlights from outside aren't nearly as visible. It is comfortable, warm and relaxing. In my view, it is the perfect hygge design.
Morning rituals in the winter time are different than in the summer time. Slippers and a bathrobe, a hot cup of coffee and warm food create a sense of nurturing to offset the piercing cold. Reminding ourselves to be grateful for what we have can provide the necessary mental shift to get through the long winter months.
Warmth is not only a physical state. It's a mental one too. The Danes figure snow and ice will slow you down so what's the rush? Hygge is an art form. It's cave time with the tempo to match.