Denmark beckons. Here they embrace a lifestyle I’ve spent years trying to achieve. Imagine a whole culture that’s built around comfort and snuggling up, or so it seems from a book Santa left for me under the tree this year. This lifestyle revelation may not be new news, but it is good news to me.
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking describes the Danish national obsession with living a life that’s warm and inviting. Hygge, pronounced HOO-guh, is the danish word for coziness. Here people are more important than things, and it’s emphasis on friends, family and everything cozy always puts it at the top of the list of the world’s happiest countries.
I don’t know much about my family tree, but my parents came from England and who knows, a Dane could have jumped in there at some point. I realized within the first two pages that I’ve been hygging for years and didn’t know it. My love for small spaces, simplicity, fluffy afghans, fireplaces, and soup — any soup — is clearly Danish. I’m not weird after all to have two full drawers bulging with pajamas. And I’m not crazy for racing in at the end of the day with one thought: underwear off, jammies on. Shoes off, slippers on. Comfort is king.
“Cozy” is a word we use often around the house. It’s our favorite state of being and is especially true since moving into such a small house four years ago. It’s pretty easy to transform 1000 sf into a snuggly nest, and I’m continually seeking ways to improve it’s hygge-ness. The next home project is painting the kitchen a soft butter yellow. Surely it’s warm glow will lure “someone” in the household to turn the stove on.
This is why I know I’m Danish. I’m lucky to have a fireplace in my home, but just couldn’t let the feeling go as the days warmed, even when winter AND spring had passed. Even as temperatures climbed in the summer, we simply refused to give up starting our day off right. So, we opened up every window and bought fans to pull in more of the cool night air. It was just enough on those summer nights that we could still watch flames over morning coffee. This seemed nuts even to us, until we admitted how addicted we are to the concept of cozy. I’ve imagined the neighbors tsk-tsk-ing over chimney smoke in July at that crazy Wiseman house. Who sits in front of a fire when the day is going to be 95°? Snuggling is an extreme sport.
My husband and I often wake up at the same time in the middle of the night and spooning tight lulls us back to sleep. Human touch works better than a sleeping pill.
Conversation has long been at the top of my favorites, and I’ve noticed how long guests linger at the table long after eating is done. Dining room chairs aren’t as comfy as the couch, but conversation flows so easily when faces are 4 ft. apart and voices only have only to drown out the hum of the refrigerator. There’s a kind of intimacy there at the table that doesn’t happen on stiff couches and show-piece chairs placed far apart.
Wiking refers to the Hygge Manifesto:
♣ Atmosphere – Turn the lights down.
♣ Presence – Be here now. Turn off the phones.
♣ Pleasure – Coffee, chocolate, cookies and such.
♣ Equality – “We” over “me”. Share tasks and airtime.
♣ Gratitude – Appreciate it. This might be as good as it gets.
♣ Harmony – Life is not a competition. We already like you.
♣ Comfort – Take a break. It’s all about relaxation.
♣ Truce – No drama. Let’s discuss politics another day.
♣ Togetherness – Build relationships.
♣ Shelter – This is your tribe, a place of peace and security.
Making your shelter more Hyggellig starts with a Hyggekrog, a comfy chair. The second step is stocking up on candles, 13 lbs. of candle wax per person every year in Denmark!
Imagine living where the environment welcomes you at every turn. Where emotional well-being trumps bank accounts, and where people genuinely care for one another. Whoops… my rose colored glasses are showing.
Now where did I put that passport?