The official start of winter is usually around Dec. 21/22, but it’s already starting to feel like winter is here. Even under normal conditions, some people my have onset Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), yet coupled with a global pandemic over the past year, lock downs, and quarantines, many individuals across of the United States and the rest of the world may already have cabin fever . . . and winter isn’t even officially here yet.
Before spring breaks and the pandemic is declared over, there still may be several more months of mask wearing, lock downs, and quarantines. And because of this, it may be wise to get comfortable being inside. Over the past year, we’ve heard this advice before. But it remains true nevertheless.
The Danish art of hygge (pronounced “HOO-gah”) is the practice of finding comfort and happiness. Although an exact definition remains elusive, hygge is a philosophy that is meant to be lived. It comes as no surprise, then, that this idea would emerge in Denmark, a country, as author Olivia Telford describes: “The Danish experience up to 17 hours of darkness every single day in the shivering depths of their winters, and their average temperatures hover around zero degrees Celsius.”
Despite the cold and dark days, the Danes are often reported to be one of the happiest people in the world.
Hygge can then be described as experiencing “slow and intimate moments.” Others describe hygge as having a “deeper stability of contentment.” Practically speaking, hygge is found in quite moments of contentment. For instance, sitting on a comfortable chair and reading by firelight may conjure up the image of hygge. Other times, hygge may be found by doing little daily rituals.
“Hygge happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity,” writes author Lousia Thomsen Brits.
Another author, Olivia Telford describes hygge this way: “Taking it at face value, anything the person determines as cozy and comfortable could be considered hygge.” She continues, “Whether that is soft lighting, a roaring fire, walking around naked in your home, cuddling, or even the repetitive movements of shaving . . . If it is comfortable, it can be defined as hygge.”
So, as the winter of 2020/2021 approaches, and as more people spend more time indoors, it may be a good time to remember the idea of hygge.
Brits, L. T. (2017). The book of hygge. Plume Books. New York, NY.
Telford, O. (2017). Discovering the Danish art of happiness.