What Hygge Really Means (And How To Embrace It For A Happier Life)

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What Is Hygge? Self-Care Tips For How To Be Happy, Relaxed, & Live In The Moment Using Mindfulness & Gratitude
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By Ioana Scholler 

The world is fast-paced and it seems that people are always hustling to get where they’re going. For many, feeling relaxed, content, and mindful might never happen. This is part of the reason why the concept of hygge is so important.

Many would be inclined to ask "how could such a small and hard to pronounce word become an international trend and spawn a whole industry of books, furniture, and lifestyle advice based on it?"

To begin to address this question accurately, we would have to look into the history of hygge itself. It is crucial to understand that it is not just a word that signifies a perfectly captured Insta pic. It is one of the very pillars on which the Danish society stands and flourishes.

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What is hygge?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, the hygge definition is: “A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture.”

Hygge can be many things such as the aroma of freshly made coffee, a bowl of clementines, a quiet evening drinking hot tea with your favorite person, the sound of someone’s voice, and even a meal shared with family and friends.

The feel of a book’s soft cover; the smell of a loved one’s perfume; the sound of rain outside your window at night.

You have probably gotten the gist of it by now. Hygge can be anything that makes you feel warm, happy, grateful, and thankful.

It does not have to be of material form. It can simply be a moment or a feeling. In essence, hygge teaches us how to relax and tend to our mental health through activities that center us.

The concept of hygge at its core teaches us about transforming what we already have into our own little haven.  It teaches us how to be happy with the little things, and how to live in the moment.

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It is a break or even an escape from the rushed routines and the noise that constantly surrounds us.

Basically, it is not about what you have, it’s about what you’re willing to make of it.

While it can be difficult and even ridiculous to try and put this concept in a box, there are a few simple ways to practice it and to enjoy its immense benefits.

It is important to remember that hygge is not about consumerism.

It is a spiritual decision more than it is a shopping spree. If you truly wish to embrace this lifestyle of self-care and happiness, you will have to understand that the commercial aspect of it is total nonsense.

The odds are that you are already practicing your own version of hygge every day. It might be in those quiet minutes in the morning when you sit down, sip your coffee, and feel so blessed and full of gratitude by the gift of another day.

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Maybe your hygge is during lunch break when you catch up with your colleagues. Therefore, what you can do is take these moments in; actually consciously appreciate them while they are happening. And, try to enhance them by being present and grateful.

Practicing hygge is a kind of mindfulness.

It is an opportunity for your mind to rest and focus on the most important things like the ones you are doing at this very moment. Most of the time, we allow the future to overwhelm us. We worry so much that the present slips right from under our feet.

Hygge can teach us that there is no need to rush through our lives, which can help us feel happier.

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Even if you feel that a pillow or a mug with hygge written on it, or a book about the practice could help you along in the process, feel free to purchase anything that might inspire and comfort you.

As long as you do not let yourself get sucked into the commercial side of it, your mind and body will thank you.

Hygge has been a tradition and an icon in Denmark’s culture for many years. It is a word that this northern country uses on daily basis. And it holds a far greater significance than most of the literature written around it will probably ever be able to convey. Unfortunately, hygge is often misunderstood and used incorrectly.

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“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

If one wishes to go deeper into this Scandinavian concept of living, they just have to focus on the everyday.  Some literature has successfully done so, including “The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well” by Louisa Thomsen Britts. It is a wonderful little read with breathtaking photos and inspiring quotes such as the one above.

So, if you wish to try and welcome hygge into your own home, you can start by thinking of an activity that makes you feel content with yourself and the rest of the world. For some, it might be lighting a candle and drinking a cup of tea while looking out the window.

For others, it can mean turning on some soft music and going through family photos. Whatever you might choose to do to relax, remember that hygge is about soothing your mind and body and allowing yourself to be truly happy.

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Ioana Scholler is a journalist who writes lifestyle content focusing on health and wellness. You can find more of her work by visiting her profile on Unwritten

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.