Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish word defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Simply put, if something makes you feel cozy or special, it’s hygge. In fact, Danish doctors often tell patients that “tea and hygge” will cure the common cold. While it’s possible to hygge alone (think big comfy blanket, a book, and a cup of tea), the expression of hygge is about being together with loved ones in a relaxed environment.
“After our basic needs are met, more money doesn’t lead to more happiness,” Meik Wiking, the C.E.O. of a Copenhagen think tank called the Happiness Research Institute, told Elle UK. “Instead, Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.”
There are a few simple ways to practice hygge at home that may help you find the peace and coziness the Danes have been enjoying for centuries.
The concept of hygge is to create a relaxed, serene space that is free of clutter. For many, messes can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, which is the opposite of all hygge has to offer. If you find many of the rooms in your home need a proper clearing out, dedicate time to do so. Put away laundry, clear away that pile of books, find a place for toys, mail, and anything else that’s scattered in a room. If it’s an item you haven’t used or worn in a while, consider whether you still need it. If not, take it to charity or sell it.
One way to hygge at home is by decorating with fluffy pillows, neutral paint colors, vintage items that tell a story, and soft, comfortable textiles. Create a space next to your couch for soft blankets and pillows, so you have a warm, inviting place to unwind. If you’ve got a busy household with lots of noise, kids, and pets, find a space in your home that is just for you and decorate it with the ideas above. When you have time or need to recharge, grab a book, a cup of tea (or a glass of wine), put on some soft music, and take time for yourself.
Candles create an ambiance in any space they occupy. Lighting a candle immediately makes you stop and appreciate the moment. Its soft glow and the peace a candle brings are tough to find in anything else and should be used liberally throughout your home to create a hygge space. If you’re not a fan of candles or scents bother you, consider twinkle lights, which can be used on fireplace mantles, wrapped in glass jars, or added to bedroom walls to offer the soft light and warmth similar to candles.
If you have a fake or real fireplace in your home, crank it up. Like the soft light of candles, fire transforms any space from cold and dark to warm and cozy. The crackle of a fire and the smell it creates immediately calms nerves and makes you feel a sense of peace, the backbone of what hygge is all about. If you don’t have an indoor fireplace, consider buying a simple fire pit for your outdoor space, wrap up in a blanket if you live somewhere cold, grab some logs (and a s’more if you are so inclined), and enjoy hygge outside.
Taking time to relax with a good book is one of the mainstays of hygge. If you love to read, find space for a bookshelf (or an entire wall of books) and cram it with your favorites and ones you have yet to read. Books have a way of making a space feel more welcoming and lived in. Plus, they create a sense of wonder and possibility of being lost in someone’s words and the stories they create. If you’re feeling stressed or need to relax, books can help you escape from whatever is going on in your world and can sweep you away into another world altogether.
The underlying sentiment of all of these ideas is to create a warm, relaxing, and intimate space—a space that allows you to connect with yourself and loved ones and a space where you can find pleasure in the simplicity of your surroundings. There are many ways to adopt and embrace the Danish way of living, not just in your home environment but beyond.
Simple changes to your lifestyle like unplugging from electronics, taking time for yourself to do an activity that makes you happy like baking, reading, or meditating, or inviting a friend over for coffee will help you practice the art of hygge. Once you incorporate this into your life, you’ll find yourself more centered, less stressed out, and more in touch with your surroundings. That sounds like a pretty nice way to live to us.
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