If you have been following my writing this last month, it will come as no surprise when I say that my life is too busy. Every day passes by in a blur and before I know it, another week has passed, which quickly turns into another month and soon it will be another year. I know that I can’t keep living like this and have recently began looking into ways to slow everything down… to take time to enjoy the small things in life.
One of the ways I have discovered is the Danish practice of hygge (hue-gah); which although there is no exact English translation, it simply entails living life with a feeling of general coziness, comfort and well-being. With a focus on these three elements of daily living, it is no wonder Danish people are consistently ranked as the happiest in the world.They have realized that the essence of happiness is not in continually adding stuff to our lives, but in embracing the small things and delighting in the moments occurring all around us. We don’t have to make life… it is already happening… we are often just too busy to stop and notice.
In a recent article from The New Yorker, hygge is explained as a state of mindfulness as a way to make “essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful, living a life connected with loved ones” (New Yorker December 18, 2016). In an article from the March 10th edition of Today, a Danish person explained hygee as this: “It is the intimacy you create, several times a day, on purpose in order to make life bearable or even very good.” That sounds like something that almost everyone could use in their life but… what does that mean? Lets take a look…
To live a life of hygge means taking time to slow down and make little moments in your day the most important. It means going and sitting at a coffee shop and chatting with a friend, taking the time to curl up with a good book, going out and exploring nature, taking a new route to work and taking in the fresh scenery, playing games with your family, turning off your electronics, lighting candles, and generally allowing yourself to sit and just be. It means doing writing a note to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time, passing on a random act of kindness when out and about, dancing in the rain, and taking in the beauty of a fresh snowfall on a mid-march morning. It simply entails learning to experience the life that we already have and finding appreciation in all of the moments we so easily miss when we are busy.
I want my sidewalks to be filled with smiling, hyggelige people. We Americans are simply too busy… it is time we learn something from the happiest people on earth. How will you make your life more hygge this week?