I first came across the term “hygge “(prounounced “hoo-gah”) about two months ago and immediately loved the concept. I had been researching books on well-being online and went down a rabbit hole – as you do online – and discovered the world of hygge. Hygge is about balance and well-being. It feels like the perfect topic to write about as we head into fall and a desire to cocoon and get cozy by a fire decends on many of us.

Hygge is a Danish concept that is a bit elusive to describe but you know it when you feel it. It is a sense of coziness, friendship, community, safety and connection to both the physical environment and the people around you. In her book, The Book of Hygge – the Danish art of Contentment, Comfort and Connection, Louisa Thomsen Brits describes it as “a quality of presence and an experience of belonging and togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted, and sheltered.” The word “hygge” may originate from the Norwegian word for “hug.”

Hygge is made up of the small moments in life. There is a sense of gentleness, simplicity and authenticity about it. I don’t think you can hygger if you are not grounded in yourself at that moment. Hygge for me is when I am drinking a hot cup of tea at home and my family is near. It is when I’m in Tofino, playing on the beach with my children or curled up reading a book watching the waves out the window. It is a spontaneous, informal dinner with neighbours.

In his book, The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way to Live Well, Meik Wiking from the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, outlines his Hygge Manifesto, which has ten points:

  1. Atmosphere – Turn down the lights.
  2. Presence – Be here now. Turn off the phones.
  3. Pleasure – Coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes, candy.
  4. Equality – “We” over “me”. Share the tasks and the airtime.
  5. Gratitude – Take it in. This might be as good as it gets.
  6. Harmony – It’s not a competition. We already like you. There is no need to brag about your achievements.
  7. Comfort – Get comfy. Take a break. It’s all about relaxation.
  8. Truce – No drama. Let’s discuss politics another day.
  9. Togetherness – Build relationships and narratives. “Do you remember the time we…?”
  10. Shelter – This is your tribe. This is a place of peace and security.

There are elements of the physical (e.g. paying attention to lighting, comfy chairs, good food); the social (e.g. connection to friends and family); the emotional (e.g. feeling safe and content); and the spiritual (e.g. being rejuvenated, nourished and replenished) in hygge.

If you are interested, I would recommend picking up a book on hygge. Either of the two I’ve mentioned here are great. Both books are beautiful and pleasing to hold and look through – gorgeous, calm photos and illustrations and uncomplicated pages. They are calm and quiet reads. Not too demanding or complicated.

So back to the first question: how do you hygger? And how could you add more hygge to your life?