Hunkering down to ride out a cozy winter? The Oxford English Dictionary defines Hygge as a kind of coziness that evokes feelings of contentment and wellbeing. It is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment as charming or special regardless of where you are, or who you are with.
Residing in Heart
Hygge can describe an atmosphere, people, relaxing and having a good time. Although I am not Danish, it occurs to me, it’s about residing in the heart, with a sense of peace and ease.
I recently learned about this term during a sermon at my church where the minister was talking about the need to find Hygge moments in a COVID year. At coffee hour, a Danish woman, in her eighties, long residing in the U.S., shared she was tired of people mispronouncing hygge and portraying it as something it is not – particularly the hype about using it as a way to market and sell mugs, coffee, blankets, socks, etc. – hygge “accessories.” By the way, it’s pronounced “hue-gah” or “hoo-guh.”
Wanting to learn more about this beautiful term, I discovered many articles on it that do mention having items like candles, hot chocolate, tea, comfy socks and oversized sweaters close by in hygge moments. They also point out hygge moments can be about what you experience being in the company of loved ones. Hygge (or to be “hyggeligt”) doesn’t require learning “how-to”, adopting it as a lifestyle. It can be about experiencing physical ease and relaxation, comfortableness, comfiness, comfort.
Years ago when I was doing consulting work at IBM, I was asked to incorporate a cultural survey they were already using into a leadership development program. This survey helped people understand their cultural country identity. In other words, which country culture they most closely resembled in mindset and lifestyle regardless of which country they were born, raised in, or currently live in.
Aligning to Culture
When I got my results, I was not surprised that I am not a “typical” American. I was surprised to learn that the country I would most closely resonate with is Denmark. The reason given is I have a stronger sense of working and living and balancing or integrating life and work compared to the average American who might weight more on work. I am not debating if this survey is accurate. But I did find it interesting in where it placed me and why. Denmark is on my bucket list, for sure, when COVID lifts.
Resonating with Cozy
I strongly resonate with the concept of hygge. I find it particularly important to experience during the cold of winter in a time when the world is in so much turmoil. Finding a cozy place, even if it’s only within, is needed to shore up for navigating uncertain times.
Allow yourself to experience hygge. Some suggestions: Curl up in that cozy chair with your favorite tea. Snuggle with your partner under a blanket next to the fire. Pause and notice how great you feel, or how close you feel to a loved one. Or maybe, just notice what gives you a warm, cozy feeling inside – notice who are you with, what are you doing, how are you being in that moment. Allow the welling up to to just be – just for the moment – just for today. You can go back to the stress and rush of your day, after you have a respite, if you still want to.
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Suze Shaner is an executive coach and leadership & organization effectiveness consultant. She also teaches yoga and meditation – tools to keep one sane in uncertain times. She helps professionals step up to their fullest leadership, life, and growth potential. At times this means getting out of their own way in getting important stuff accomplished. www.sagelead.com.