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A couple of months ago, my 13-year-old daughter walked into the house, along with my husband, after a day at school. There was nothing extraordinary about that day in and of itself, but there were several subtle differences: I happened to be home rather than at work that afternoon, had put a roast in the slow cooker and had lit a fragrant candle. The weather was mild, so I’d opened a few windows and the back door and a balmy breeze was blowing through the house. The house was relatively clean and tidy, par for the course on a Monday afternoon.
Do you know what my daughter said the moment she walked into the house?
“Mom, this is the best day of my life!”
At first, I thought there was more to the story, maybe an award at school or good news following a big test. So, I asked her to explain WHY she was having the best day of her life.
She couldn’t quite find the words to describe it, but what I deduced was the fabulous combination of a perfectly comfortable temperature, homey scents in the air, knowing we’d be enjoying a yummy meal soon, and having her family at home around her.
It reminded me of an article I’d read in the November 2016 issues Psychologies magazine.
What I’m describing is that state of mind that is somewhat rare, occurring when for just a brief period of time, all is perfectly well in your life. In English, we may use the word, “cozy,” or “content,” to connote this feeling. Let me introduce you to the Danish word, “hygge,” pronounced hue-gah. You may have heard of hygge in the context of Scandinavian interior design, but the concept of hygge is also about living better in all realms of your life. Hygge is a sensory experience that promotes a sense of well-being that is very edifying to all members of your household and your guests. The author, Louisa Thomsen Brits says, “Hygge is an experience of selfhood and communion with people and places that anchors and affirms us, and gives us courage and consolation,” in The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well.
Here are some ideas to you may want to implement to start creating a sense of hygge in your own home:
- There are three basic hygge principles: pleasure, presence and participation. Take a few minutes to find out what these words means to each of your family members, and to yourself. Make those definitions your goals.
- Make hygge jhorne or hygge corners in your home. These are areas, nooks, or any intentionally decluttered and cozy spots with protective boundaries that encourage us to engage our emotions and senses in the moment. It might be a tidily make bed in your child’s room to sit and read a bedtime story, with a small cup of water for him or her on the bedside table. It might be an armchair with a fuzzy throw blanket on it, with a neatly folded newpaper or magazine ready to read on the arm. These places not only invite the person into them, but they invite hygge experiences to unfold.
- Make the journey back to your homeland, home state, or hometown with your family. Return to your roots. Let your memories narrate the scene as you share what was important to you or your extended family through the generations. Instill this storytelling heritage in your own children.
- Hygge appeals to me because it involves being mindful and intentional as we go about our seemingly routine tasks. In the hustle and bustle of modern life in America, this is hard! Find ways to take joy in simple tasks. Instead of grabbing a Coke and reading the headlines on your phone’s news app, consider pouring a hot beverage into your favorite mug and looking at the news on your laptop’s larger screen or gasp! reading the newspaper. In true hygge cliché, taking 5 seconds to light a candle as you prepare dinner can change your whole experience from prep to clean up.
- Make time to interact with others with the objective of including those who are otherwise excluded. For years, my office has blocked off our lunch hour on Thursdays for “Lunch Bunch.” We’d either order in or bring our sack lunches and eat together in the conference room. And by together, I mean everyone was included, from the CEO to management to staff and admins!
Long story short, hygge can add a coveted dose of security and connectedness to a culture that has become more and more isolated.
In a climate of rushing around, how can you add a little hygge to your life?
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
Gracia y paz,
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