Hygge for Happinessby Elizabeth MacDonald
I stumbled upon this article the other day. A friend’s husband actually shared it on social media. This couple (my friend and her husband) just sold their home to spend the next few months traveling the country with their 3 young ones. They’ve been on the road for a few weeks, and I can tell just by their ‘status updates’ how much this trip has bonded them. They are an amazing family and threw caution to the wind just to ensure that they were living life – together. I’m proud of them, happy for them, and slightly jealous (who wouldn’t be!). This brings me to the article they shared and the piece I’m writing right now. It is all about happiness; actually, it is all about the LACK OF happiness we are experiencing in our culture.
Denmark has ranked the happiest country inn the world for more than 40 years.
Even Walt Disney agreed, as he was inspired to build “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Walt Disney World after seeing Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. Mr. Disney tried to bring that Denmark happiness here to us, and while his attempt was (and is still) quite magical, I would think it is safe to say that our happiness levels have not risen as a whole.
So what is the secret? Why is everyone in Denmark happy? A mother and wife to a Dane, Jessica Alexander shared what she learned from a family trip. While the weather is anything but wonderful, the air is still filled with warmth and cheer. There is little to no negativity felt, and everyone is helpful – without feeling owed. It is a way of life; a way of life that can be adapted here. It is ‘Hygge’ (Hoo-gah) as the Danish call it. And it is the answer to creating a more peaceful, happy, caring village.
Don’t get me wrong, I know our country as a whole will not jump on the hygge bandwagon. But I do believe that love is the answer.
I believe that accepting everyone, loving mankind as a whole, and raising kind-hearted children by way of modeling kindness will set forth the change our society needs. I’m assuming, if you are reading this, that you may agree. If you don’t, then you should probably turn back now. Hygge has no English transition, but think about it as a Thanksgiving without the family tension. Everyone genuinely wanting to be around the same table and enjoying everyone. It seems almost impossible, right? I hear you. Trust me, I do. But what if we could change it with this next generation. What if we all started cherishing our families above our jobs. What if we started helping others without judging them? What if we showed our children that the greatest part of life is to love? I’m pretty sure we would see our country’s happiness level rise a few notches. How do we change our ways though? The first thing is to realize that hygge is not 24/7/365. It will grow longer and larger over time as it becomes a part of our lifestyle, but it is defined by the Danish as a time when families play games, talk, share, love, bond, and gather. A time when the earth-shattering conversations are left aside and everyone is truly nice. We typically call this ‘Quality Time,’ but the difference is that we still carry our politics and problems right over into our QT. In fact, we usually utilize our quality time to dive into the deepest of issues. To have hygge means to leave it all at the door and accept everyone in the moment. Alexander explains why hygge is so important, as it creates a true ‘safe harbor.’ Children do not do well in a negative environment, and honestly, our society is pretty much negative all.the.time. Hygee creates a safe place, a feeling of belonging, a place to reach an inner peace. This expands into self-confidence, self-respect, respecting others, and spreading love. Hygee can include friends and is never a ‘closed-door’ activity. The original article lists many suggestions for hygge activities: card games, fort building, scavenger hunts, and potluck meals. I would love to add:
- Holiday decorating
- Board games
Just like my friends I wrote of who are traveling with their children, our home plans to set aside hygge time. As our time in our current location looks to be slowly dwindling, and a new unknown adventure is ahead, our children will need hygge time more than ever.
Would you consider implementing hygge as well?