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.
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