We love all things cozy, warm and friendly at Tiny Owl Creates. It wasn’t until adulthood that I discovered this had a name – hygge.
The dictionary defines hygge as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Hygge – pronounced hoo-guh – is regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture. In the house I grew up in we knew it by its Dutch name, gezelligheid.
Gezelligheid is not a term you want me to try to spell phonetically, however if you visit @tinyowlcreatesshop on Instagram, you’ll find me saying it posted in the highlights. In any case, it’s the feeling of relaxing warmth and conviviality the term connotes that is important. Moments of hygge, gezelligheid or whatever you want to call it, feel like magical islands among day-to-day struggles.
One of those “magical islands” for me was during summer vacation. Every summer my family would go camping with friends. A favorite destination was the national park. After a day of sightseeing and hiking, we’d take hot showers (I always felt remade afterwards). Us kids would put on pajamas and sweaters. The dads would collaborate to build a fire. The mums would make dinner. And we’d sit around the campfire eating dinner, making s’mores, reliving the day and linking it other trips through stories.
We felt warm, well-fed and a deep sense of well-being. I remember sitting in this expansive forest listening to crickets, owls and the chatter of happy people yet feeling safely cocooned in a feeling utter contentment.
That, my friends, is hygge!
How to live the hygge life
Adapting hygge to your life is not difficult at all. It simply entails being present and open to your experiences.Adapting hygge to your life is not difficult at all. It simply entails being present and open to your experiences. Click To Tweet
I find it in many places. It’s in my studio while I listen to a podcast or music as I work. It’s in my kitchen when I prepare a nourishing meal. There was hygge – big time! – when I unpacked my books in my new place, put them on bookshelves and then sat in my “library” space to read with a hot cup of tea on the table next to me. When my friends get together to play boardgames, we experience it. Snuggling with my pets is a hygge experience – big time!
And while hygge is often associated with winter, it’s an all-season occurance – you just have to be open to experiencing it.
5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Experience Hygge
Anytime, anywhere – you can choose to create hygge. It’s a fantastic mood lifter. Use the following checkpoints to help you:
- Sight – look around and note what is interesting to you. You don’t need to any type of fancy vista (although that is a quick way to get hygge) to feel good. Look around – maybe it’s in the way the morning light hits your houseplants or your dog curled up next to you on the sofa.
- Sound – there are sounds that are just naturally soothing to us. Find what works for you. I love the sound of water – ocean waves, babbling brooks, rain. Listen and let it soak into your being. As we say in yoga practice, breathe into it.
- Taste – obviously we humans get a lot of pleasure from our meals, but there are other things too. Open your perspective. I’ve always felt hygge when at the shore and I could taste the salt in the air on my lips.
- Touch – There are approximately 17,000 touch receptors in your hand, with the majority clustered in your fingertips. Stroking your pets, touching a friend’s arm, hugging – all sends direct messages to your brain that all is well and feels good.
- Smell – ah, the olefactory system! Our sense of smells can trigger powerful emotions. Perhaps a whiff of lilies of the valleys remind you of the day you got married. Or the scent of baby lotion channels the feelings of the days when your college-bound child was a newly-minted human. Surround yourself with scents that trigger joy.
In a nutshell, hygge is something we all have the capacity to experience. It is part of the human experience and every culture has its own name for it. It delivers a lot for little effort. Reach out into the world with your senses. Experience your present so that you build a personal encyclopedia of experiences to build on and feel good.