Try Hygge in the New Year

Take a cue from Denmark and find ways to channel this Danish-inspired movement into your life and home in 2017.

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If you haven’t heard the word “hygge” yet, chances are you will. The Danish term can mean many things based on who you’re talking to, but at its core it translates to enjoying the simple pleasures in life. As another year winds down and individuals find themselves dashing from holiday gatherings to office parties and celebrating the season, carve out some time to learn more about this slowed-down approach to enjoying the small activities that can bring a smile to your face every day.

So, what is hygge all about?

“Hygge has been called everything from the art of creating intimacy, coziness of the soul, and cocoa by candlelight,” says Meik Wiking, author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute. “Some of the key ingredients are togetherness, relaxation, indulgence, presence and comfort. The true essence of hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness and it’s basically like a hug, just without the physical touch. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin said it best, ‘Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasure that occur every day than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.’”

What’s one of the most important components of hygge? Giving yourself time, from working on a new knitting project to catching up with an old friend.

“Taking a break for a few minutes during work, to renew energy, have a cup of tea and just sink in for a second. Hygge is a priority. It’s a way of adding more joy and enjoyment to our day.,” says the author of “Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness” Marie Tourell Søderberg.

“I believe that we already have a lot of hygge moments in our life - we know that feeling of playing with our niece on the floor on a Wednesday afternoon. But looking at your everyday life and appreciating the hygge we already have and then adding more of the same is a good way of getting more hygge.”

How can you reflect a hygge mindset in your home? According to Emily Arnow, editor at Wayfair and AllModern, hygge is all about embracing the look and feel of comfort to create your most soothing space.

Image courtesy of Oh My Dear Blog.

Image courtesy of Oh My Dear Blog.

“Incorporate this vibe into your home for the new year by using beautiful textures—cozy wool knits and woven rugs—and showcasing meaningful, mood-boosting items, like candles, plants, or treasured family photos,” says Emily. “The hygge movement keeps Danes happy even when days are cold and dark.”

Image courtesy of Oh My Dear Blog.

Image courtesy of Oh My Dear Blog.

Emily suggests adding items that spark feelings of coziness and joy to help you feel at ease this winter. When it comes to creating some hygge of your own at home, bring in a cashmere throw, a calming candle, or a small olive tree—anything that will make your home feel intimate and well-collected.

Meik, author of the upcoming book “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living,” finds that during stressful times, like the holiday season or the beginning of a new year, it’s important to keep hygge top of mind.

“I meet up with a few good friends to have mulled wine and wish each other merry Christmas—and my dad and I usually go for a long walk Christmas day,” he says.

You can create a DIY hygge kit to have on hand whenever you feel rundown, suggests Meik. Some of his favorite items to include are candles, good quality chocolate, tea, your favorite book, jam, a good pair of woolen socks, a notebook, a jumper and a nice blanket.

Anu Partanen, journalist and author of “The Nordic Theory of Everything,” encourages people to try to focus on what really matters during busy times like the holidays.

“It’s not the amount of gifts or the perfect dress or the perfectly polished and decorated home or extensive cooking. It’s about being together with loved ones,” she says. “Stop to see a friend for a coffee or a drink in the midst of holiday shopping and simplify your to-do-list. Hyggelig holidays are not about the perfect set-up, they’re about spending time together, enjoying precious moments of peace and tranquility.”

Image courtesy of Art in the Find.

Image courtesy of Art in the Find.

Why is hygge making its way into the bigger spotlight currently? Anu thinks that in times of uncertainty, hygge can provide a more peaceful state of mind.

“Hygge provides a refuge that you can create for yourself and it can present a return to simpler pleasures and remembering that friends and family are what really matters,” she says. “Of course, in this age of Instagram, who doesn’t love trends that result in inviting photos of cozy, candle-lit dinners?”

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