Hygge (Pronounced Hooga)
Last week I wrote about happiness and expectations. Two practices, hygge in Denmark and lagom in Sweden were noted as constructs for well being in those countries. Hygge has actually become more wide spread in recent years. I thought I would do a deeper dive into hygge to give you a better picture of this recipe for happiness.
Hygge is essentially drama-free togetherness time. It is cozying around, but more than that, it is being aware that that cozy time is sacred—and treating it as such. Because Danes see hygge as such a fundamental aspect of good living, they all work together to make it happen. Hygge is “we time,” not “me time”
Try to imagine going to a drama-free family gathering. There are no divisive discussions about politics, family issues, or Aunt Jenny’s dysfunctional kids. No snide comments, complaining, or heavy negativity. Everyone helps out, so that not one person gets stuck doing all the work. No one brags, attacks anyone, or competes with another. It is a light-hearted, balanced interaction that is focused on enjoying the moment, the food, and the company. In short, a shelter from the outside world.
Hygge is considered such a powerful factor in Danish happiness that some universities in the UK and the US have started offering courses on it.
5Rules for Hygge
1. Come as you are. Be yourself. Your real self. Let your guard down. You won’t be attacked on hygge turf and you won’t attack in turn. When we strip ourselves of trying to prove something we can all connect in a much more real way. Competition, boasting, and pretense are not bonding, but rather subtly dividing.
2. Forget the controversy. If your topic is too serious, divisive or controversial, it probably isn’t hyggeligt, Hygge is about a balanced ebb and flow of discussion in a lighthearted way. The focus is on the moment and being in the moment. We have plenty of time in our everyday lives to argue and debate and experience drama but hygge is about enjoying the food, the company and not getting caught up in things that take away from that. Thus, complaining, heavy negativity, judging and arguing are not allowed in the hygge space.
3. Think of yourself as a team member. Everyone sees what he or she can do to contribute, without being asked. This makes the whole team flow better and no one gets stuck doing all the work. When everyone works together in preparing, serving, pouring, and conversing, then hygge is in full bloom. But everyone has to understand that they are part of that team.
4. See hygge as a shelter from the outside. Hygge time is about providing a temporary shelter from social climbing, networking, competition, and materialism. A place where everyone can relax and open their hearts without judging, no matter what is going on in their life. For better or for worse, this place is sacred and problems can be left outside. This is special because it allows for families and friends to always be able to connect in this space without fear of judgment.
5. Remember it is time limited. Making hygge can be challenging for a non-Dane. No one taking centre stage, no one bragging or complaining, no one being too negative and everyone trying to be present without arguing? This is hard to do for a lot of families! But the payoff is enormous. It feels incredible to share these drama-free moments with those you care about. If you realize that it is only for a dinner or a lunch or a limited period of time, it makes it much easier to really try and enjoy that moment.
Your problems will be waiting for you outside hygge’s door when you leave. But for a little while they can wait outside for the sake of the something bigger.4
Comments are welcome.