In this pandemic year, we’ve probably all experienced a full gamut of new highs and lows. In every difficulty, beautiful experiences and lessons can be found.
There is a terrific book called, The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl. They shared a way of parenting that really intrigued and resonated with me. In the final chapter, they introduced the concept of togetherness and hygge. Have you ever heard of it? Without previously knowing the term, many individuals and families have been incorporating the “hygge” lifestyle in their homes, amidst the 2020-21 pandemic.
The word hygge originated in German, as hygga. It simply translates –to think or feel satisfied. The Norwegian version translates to “well-being.” The Danish adopted the word as their own to embody the hygge lifestyle. Danes are among the happiest people in the world and they attribute their happiness in part to hygge. During long, dark, and wintry seasons, the Danes created “hygge” to survive boredom, blues, and sameness. In American culture, it may be more likely that we are trying to survive and rise above things like over-scheduling, the pursuit of financial stability, and overtime spent with technology. The constraints of the pandemic required us to slow down our out-and-about routines and to spend more time with our immediate family , at home. We all need hygge in our lives.
Hygge is “an art of creating intimacy”. Individuals, families, and friends work together to create an atmosphere of togetherness, connection, and comfort. The only requirements are peaceful appreciation and the ability to not just be present – but to embrace and enjoy the present. Jessica Joelle Alexander said, “It’s not mindfulness, it’s we-fullness…”
Depending on the season, the simple acts of lighting a candle or putting up a strand of twinkle lights, playing a game together, sharing a nature walk, sitting in a comfy porch swing, savoring a cup of cocoa or refreshing lemonade, or preparing and enjoying a simple meal together, could make a huge difference for our spirits. Small comforts can make the ordinary day extraordinary, by simply slowing down, sharing, and savoring moments alone, or together.
For any of us who might need some relief from the stress or worries that we feel…perhaps, we could incorporate a little more Danish togetherness and “hygge”. Amidst the work, learning, and activity of our busy family homes, “hygge” can be a wonderful addition year-round. Living “hygge”, we can cultivate feelings of belonging, simplicity, and openness, while we share and celebrate the joys of everyday life together.