Embracing the Danish Idea of Hygge Will Radically Improve Your Winter

Hygge

Winter can be a long, dark season, especially when you live in the land of endless snow. This time of year, it can be grey for weeks on end, the temperatures are sub-zero on a regular basis and the wind just cuts to the bone. It’s natural to look at this season as something to endure, a time of year to plow through and just barely survive, and hope against hope that our toes eventually warm up.

But no matter how often we give winter the cold shoulder in the hope that our disregard will eventually cause it to get the hint and stop dropping by, it continues to visit, year after year. So, you know what? I think it’s time for a new approach.

It’s time for a shift in mindset—to teach ourselves to stop slogging along and find the joy in this season. It’s time to embrace an attitude of hygge. What is hygge, you may ask? Roughly translated, hygge is a Danish word that means cozy. However, that doesn’t even begin to describe it. According to the Danes, it’s a sensibility of warmth, of togetherness, of intimacy and well-being. It’s the embodiment of that feeling you get at Christmas time when everything has a magical glow about it, when everyone you love is gathered nearby, but applied year-round.

Less a word with a firm meaning, hygge is more of an abstract concept that can be applied to countless situations in life. Hygge is roaring fires and good friends gathered over a home-cooked meal, woolen socks and knit sweaters, hot chocolate and down blankets—it’s the things that get us through these dark days of winter by warming our hearts. I think hygge sounds a lot like joy and looks a lot like hope.

 It’s the embodiment of that feeling you get at Christmas time when everything has a magical glow about it, when everyone you love is gathered nearby, but applied year-round.

hygge winter

Creating environments of hygge wherever we go can help us survive the brutality of this season, whether through a walk through the freshly fallen snow, curling up with a favorite book and a cup of steaming tea, hosting a dinner party with your closest friends, or going ice skating at the local rink. And in that coziness, we pause and start seeing the glorious in the everyday, finding magic in unexpected places.

With this mindset, we can begin to practice gratitude everywhere we go, even if we aren’t thrilled about our surroundings. And that shift in attitude is something we can apply to far more than winter. We can take it with us in seasons of life when we’re dissatisfied with our jobs, upset by relationships or living situations, frustrated with the mundane, commonplace we’ve found ourselves.

The idea of hygge helps us see everyday moments as meaningful, helps us to learn how to better care for ourselves. When we consider hygge, a night out for drinks changes from a couple hours to blow off steam after a tough day at work to an evening of joy in being surrounded by people we love, talking about things that matter to us. It transforms a boring night in into a respite for our weary souls, with books and tea being just the balm we need to revive in the midst of a difficult week. It’s seeing a candle as a little ray of hope in a season that feels dark and heavy.

 It transforms a boring night in into a respite for our weary souls…

Hygge isn’t just a feeling we get when life is happy and bright—it’s a mindset we develop that helps us see the happy and bright when things don’t feel that way. And it may not dispel the difficulty of your current circumstances, but it can help take away some of the heaviness.

So, wherever we find ourselves today, whether in the throes of an actual winter or a time of emotional darkness, let’s stop holding our breath until this season ends and the flowers start to bloom once again. Rather, let’s determine to find joy and hope, wherever we are. Because, we can fight these seasons or we can embrace them. And life is always more gentle and warm when embraced.

How are you adding moments of hygge to your everyday?

Images via Hanna Voxland

Amy Overgaard is a writer + editor based in Saint Paul, Minn. She loves a good story and especially enjoys interviewing entrepreneurs and makers, learning more about their passions and how they’ve taken a chance on something they love. Her perfect afternoon would include cribbage, dear friends, fresh air and strong, black coffee.

6 COMMENTS
  • Anonymous December 13, 2016

    Excellent point! I’ve been enjoying winter for a good 8 years now, and it has changed everything! Once you embrace it, you start to look forward to it! And it makes all the varieties of life that much more beautiful!

  • I also heard about “koselig” this past winter and just the concept alone helped me shift my mindset toward winter. Because it was so cold, I made conscious efforts to create warmth and cozy around me. My favorite way is by cooking! Especially roasting squash in the oven 🙂

  • Yelle March 14, 2016

    The sense of hygge and my first winter in Chicago is what inspired me to start my little knitwares business! For me, hygge is definitely being warm inside during winter time, knitting, or being surrounded by knits, candles, good company, and perhaps some wine or tea doesn’t hurt!

  • By NATJA February 26, 2016

    Hygge can never be translated, it truly is the feeling you have inside, when you just feel happiness and warm inside – regardless of the weather outside 😉 But yes, cozy is the word that comes closest. I earlier blogged about going to a flea market on a rainy sunday – that can be cozy as well, being there with your family, relaxing and looking for some vintage gold. Hygge is everything 🙂 I can recommend all other countries to introduce hygge!

    The best, Natja – Dane and blogger at http://www.bynatja.dk

  • Rachel @ Betty LIVIN February 26, 2016

    At the beginning of the winter I read a similar article about Norway and getting ‘koselig’. I went out and bought a big cozy blanket for the couch and kept candles lit throughout the long dark nights and it definitely made a difference. And I don’t think it’s so much he blanket or candles but the fact that I shifted my mindset about winter.

    • Anonymous October 21, 2016

      I believe you are right in this approach. Love all the cozy talk but it also makes me think of making the best of this dark time, when it is easy to feel down. Looking for the up side of everything!

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