Hygge: Being Content With the Little Things

10 April, 2021
Hygge is a term that refers to the warmth of home and the happiness of living from simplicity. How can we incorporate it into our lifestyle and be content with the little things? Learn more here!

Hygge, or being content with the little things, is a philosophy of life followed by the Danish people, who’ve consistently been ranked as the happiest on the planet. So who better than the Danes to give us the key to the door that can lead us to happiness?

Hygge is the name given to the warmth of a home, to the action of being in front of a fireplace with a hot tea or simply enjoying that moment. Some wonder if it’ll be possible to export this lifestyle to other countries where time seems to pass too quickly.

Dreaming of enjoying the delicious taste of cinnamon cookies, petting our pet, or covering ourselves with a quilt without caring about anything seems like a dream. Yet this is how the Danish people like to live.

The pronunciation of hygge is “hu-ga”, and although the word doesn’t have an exact translation, it alludes to “cozy” or “warm”. But beyond the meaning of the term, hygge isn’t just a word, but a philosophy or lifestyle of an entire people who live by enjoying the little things in life.

What is “hygge”?

The term “hygge” also means “wellbeing”, “comfort”, “coziness”, among others, although there’s no exact translation. Since its appearance in the 19th century, in Denmark, this word has managed to make its way into other cultures.

This is because, as studies show, living under pressure generates an overload of tension that causes many diseases to appear. Obviously, no one wants to fall ill, so many people around the world have begun to value other ways of living with less stress.

A family enjoying the warmth of their home.
This lifestyle invites us to enjoy the warmth of home, to live unhurriedly, and to let go of stress.

In the book “The Book of Hygge” by Louisa Thomsen Brits, she mentions that hygge is a style that arises when “we commit to enjoying the present”. This style also involves embracing simplicity, and can be found:

“…in the things we do that give value and meaning to daily life, comfort us, make us feel at home, rooted, and generous.”

Indeed, the Danes must live through a terrifying winter in which they only see the sun for four hours a day. So, they must find a way to make their time indoors pleasant.

Inspired by this style, many cafes, bookstores, restaurants, and other businesses are trying to adapt their environments to make people feel “at home” and forget about their daily worries.

You may be interested in: The Keys to Happiness, According to Science

The literature on hygge

Today, there’s a lot of literature and research on this style that many people want to know about. Thus, the author Helle Russell, writer of the book “The Year We Live the Danish way”, suggests that:

“Hygge is about being good to yourself: Spoiling yourself, not punishing or denying yourself anything… having a nice time.”

The Danes have been sharing this secret of happiness for several generations, and the rest of the world is just beginning to realize the warmth that the intimate space of our home provides.

Another author who also wanted to delve into this philosophy was Viking Meik, who wrote “Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way”, a book in which she even shares Danish culinary recipes.

You don’t need to live in Denmark to be part of this movement that invites us to live without haste. You just need to know a little about it.

How to adopt the hygge style

Adopting the hygge style isn’t all that complicated. All you need to do is apply the following recommendations:

  • You adopt hygge when you enjoy a bath with plenty of bubbles.
  • You follow the hygge philosophy when you look out at the sea or, perhaps, by soaking your feet in the water and feeling the sand.
  • When you enjoy your coffee unhurriedly and really delight in its aroma, this is hygge.
  • It’s also worth creating a space at home, with soft lighting, soft background music, candles, delicious food, and the scent of candles.
A woman relaxing on her couch.
To adopt the hygge style, we can create a relaxing space in our home.
  • It’s important to avoid topics that cause you to become anxious, such as economic, religious, or political issues. It’s about enjoying the little things, without producing stress about the future.
  • Honor your ancestors, as this is fundamental for the Danes. Therefore, coffee tastes more delicious when it is served in crockery that has value for the family. This also helps to reminisce about pleasant events and enjoy.
  • Grab a book, stay in your pajamas, and start enjoying the benefits of reading under the warmth of your comforters.
  • Do traditional things and avoid video games, television, or cell phones.
  • Connect with your inner self.

Don’t miss: 6 Psychological Benefits You Get By Practicing Yoga

In addition to following these guidelines, you can also integrate the term hygge into your vocabulary. Tell your friends: “Let’s get together and have a hygge moment”. Besides using the term and doing what we’ve recommended, it’s important to be aware so that you truly feel the delight.

This philosophy is about relaxing, appreciating how cozy home can be, living in the present, and sharing with our loved ones. Without a doubt, hygge is one of the most enjoyable experiences there is!

  • Altman, A. (2016). The year of Hygge, the Danish obsession with getting cozy. The New Yorker.
  • Bigelow, D. (2017). Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness. In Library Journal.
  • Beltagui, A., & Schmidt, T. (2017). Why Can’t We All Get Along? A Study of Hygge and Janteloven in a Danish Social-Casual Games Community. Games and Culture. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412015590062
  • Jensen, R. H., Strengers, Y., Raptis, D., Nicholls, L., Kjeldskov, J., & Skov, M. B. (2018). Exploring hygge as a desirable design vision for the sustainable smart home. DIS 2018
  • Linnet, J. T. (2011). Money can’t buy me hygge Danish middle-class consumption, egalitarianism, and the sanctity of inner space. Social Analysis. https://doi.org/10.3167/sa.2011.550202