For Danish People, Hygge Means Happiness

November 9, 2016

People who live in Denmark are happier than the citizens of any other country. Why? This question can be answered with one word: hygge. This word doesn’t directly translate to English, but it’s related to personal well-being, sharing moments with loved ones, and enjoying time at home.

Who doesn’t like to be at home when it’s cold outside, sharing a coffee with your spouse or children, or reading a book with a cup of hot tea at hand? It would become monotonous if you did this every day, but repeating it with a certain consistency can bring you closer to happiness.

Maybe it’s not very cold right now. But you can swap out the blankets and the sofa for that little terrace in the backyard, or that walk you take where the company you have and the words you share with them are worth more than the steps you take. In some way or another, I’m sure you understand that there are thousands of ways to apply this Danish word to your life.

Feel comfortable to be happy

When Danish people are asked about the definition of hygge (a local word that has no translation to any other language), they say that it’s about what makes them happy. Hygge is more like an attitude or a way of life. It’s finding the coziest place in the house, spending time with loved ones, and setting all obligations aside. This Scandinavian country considers this to be the best way to live, even with the extreme weather conditions they experience in the winter.

During the coldest months, Danish people spend almost all day at home (there are only 4 hours of daylight at this time), which is why home decoration, comfortable furniture, and having plenty of space in their rooms is so important to them. They also pay close attention to the activities that go on inside the house: reading, watching movies, chatting, cooking, playing games, learning, and above all, spending time with family.

coffee by the fireplace

Intimate places, guaranteed happiness

Minimalist style is not “allowed” in Denmark. They don’t choose to use it because this reduces the feeling of comfort, protection, and warmth. When they decorate, they use warm colors like orange and red, buy furniture made of thick wood, and decorate with useful accessories and objects.

The intimacy of their space or environment also has to do with lighting. Even though it’s dark out most of the day, they prefer to use candles, dim lamps, and fire to heat or light the room. They don’t bother with light bulbs that are too bright or powerful.

candles

It’s also worth mentioning the fabrics they use, not only for clothing, but also for carpets, curtains, and blankets. They’re usually earth-tone fabrics made of thick, comfortable material.

For Danish people, this is all a part of their definition of happiness. And it’s not just being content with staying at home, it’s enjoying being at home when they can’t go out. Or enjoying it even when the weather is nice!

Can we all enjoy the concept of hygge?

This Danish model of happiness has already been exported to other parts of the world. Why? Because even in cities that aren’t cold, people have realized that it’s very comforting to spend time at home with family and friends, drink coffee or beer, eat ice cream, and do something you enjoy.

Something to keep in mind is that hygge is not just related to the winter, although the winter is quite long in Denmark. It can also be implemented in the warm months of summer, or any time of year. Why? Because it’s more about your way of living and feeling good. It doesn’t really have much to do with the weather, although weather is part of it.

reading a book

In the book The Year of Living Danishly, Helen Russell details her experience as a foreigner enjoying hygge. The author states that hygge is all about being good to yourself, not denying yourself the pleasures of life, not punishing yourself, and looking for moments of happiness in the little things: a piece of chocolate, an episode of your favorite TV series, a book you adore, a bit of music, and the warmth of a hug.

If you stop to think about these little things, you’ll realize what really makes you happy. Everything else is extra. You can’t find true well-being in a packed closet or a new car, but you can find it in spending time with the people you love, doing activities that comfort you. That is living hygge!

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