Updated: Mar 11, 2022
Originally published on Everyday Blooms. August 2020
“Your home is so cozy” is one of the best compliments I can receive as a hostess. I want you to feel safe and relaxed when you step inside my door, and I’ve always been partial to golden lamplight and the smell of coffee.
It’s fun to talk about cozy things like twinkle lights, fudge brownies, and saxophone music – but we’re making a terrible mistake if we don’t go much deeper.
I hadn’t heard of hygge until last year, but it is the Danish art of “coziness of the soul.” You pronounce it “hoo-ga”, and I love how one little word encapsulates a once-vague idea in my head!
The Danes are famously dubbed “The Happiest Nation in the World”, and it’s said that this ties back to their approach to life. Cultivating deep connection, taking comfort in traditions, savoring the little things, and resting purposely is part of the hygge lifeblood in the Danish culture.
I read a book* in which the author shared an anecdote where he and some friends were sitting around a cabin fireplace, relaxing after a long hike. “The only way this could be more hygge is if there was a storm outside,” one of his friends said. And they all nodded in agreement.
It’s easy to fall into thinking that coziness is something only synonymous with autumn décor or Christmas music, or that it equals ultimate comfort and relaxation. All of your favorite things at once, and nothing stressful.
But the author’s point? True "coziness" of the soul is enhanced by the roar and crash of chaos around you. It is meant to be boldly embraced in the face of spilt milk, discordant notes, and mundane tasks.
Sometimes life is incredibly dark and discouraging, to the point where Instagram’s perfect filters and pumpkin spice latte photos can hit the wrong way. But the contrast makes our choice to be grateful for the simple things that much more vital. It means being content with your life – all the complicated, messy layers of it – and being brave enough to choose to take joy in it.
Hygge is not about things. It’s about people and rest and simple living, using all of your senses. And for the Christian, it’s about thankfulness and contentment in Christ and the gifts He has given you.
I’ll be honest, there are times that I am struggling with depression and anxiety, and the last thing I feel like doing is creating a cozy, warm atmosphere and smiling at my family. But in those times, I know that pressing forward and bravely inviting the light in will help me turn my focus where it needs to be. In some mysterious way, choosing to take a walk outside and give that extra kiss helps me shift gears in my heart.
My boys are two years and four months old when I write this. I treasure these little days, but there are times when the toys scattered from here to Timbuktu and the baby roaring for his milk wouldn’t exactly make you say, “Wow, cozy!” when you stepped in. (You’d probably trip on something before you could say that anyway.)
But being able to pull them both on my lap in the middle of all that mess is one of the greatest gifts of my life.
In closing, let’s talk about practical hygge for a second. We know it’s not just about the way a room looks or feels – in fact, it involves what you smell, touch, hear, and even taste! It includes all five senses and adds a sixth — feeling safe and relaxed.
Here are 5 quick ways to invite a little more hygge into your life today:
1 – light a candle
Did you know that 85% of Danish people mention candles when asked about instant hygge? If you don’t want open flames, try twinkle lights.
2 – do something with someone you love
Remember, hygge centers around connection and savoring life. It can be as simple as making a meal together, taking a walk outside, organizing a movie night, or texting a friend for a coffee date.
3 – read a book
Aloud, even. (Any children in your life?)
4 – incorporate nature
This can look like getting outside or bringing it in with a bouquet of wildflowers or an indoor plant.
5 – think tactile
Hygge can involve lots of textures, and tends to value well-loved items like antiques. Pull out a fuzzy throw, use your favorite chipped coffee mug, or find your grandmother’s dishes.
“At the heart of hygge is a willingness to set aside time for simply being with people, and, ideally, having all the time in the world for them. Hygge is a vehicle for showing that we care. It’s a way of paying attention to our children or partners and friends in the messy reality of the here and now, and putting down the distractions that pull us in different directions.” – Louisa Thompsen Brits
What is one tiny joy that you are reveling in today? Please share in the comments.