Hygge: 6 steps to Danish happiness

Most of the people heard about the Einstein’s Theory of relativity. In this article, I wanna share with you some consequences of the Law of Linguistic relativity that I’ve recently discovered. Please, don’t fall asleep, there will be no formulas.

The Law or Linguistic relativity says that the language affects its speakers’ worldview, cognition, and decisions. Each culture has a role model or traditions, for which they need to create a special word for. For example, Spain has a word “friolero” which is a person who is very sensitive to the cold weather! Norway has the word “utepils” — which is sitting outside during a sunny day and enjoy a beer.

Denmark has a word Hygge. Hygge does not translate to other languages. Hygge resembles a typically Danish attitude, well-being, comfort, and coziness.

Hygge isn’t just an idea. It’s a mood. It’s a feeling. It’s an action. It’s a way of lifestyle. In Denmark, hygge is a part of people’s sense of self. Hygge is what Meik Wiking, the CEO of Institute of Happiness, defines as the foundation of Danish happiness.

Hygge is a lot about atmosphere and involves many different aspects to create it. Below are 6 steps to experiencing it.

The first rule of huge — Get together

It’s not about big celebrations or noisy parties. It’s about getting together with a few close friends, in an environment of trust, comfort, and security. Our relationships, in the end, define our happiness level and satisfaction of life.

57% of Danes think that the ideal number of people for hyggling — is 3 to 4, and only 11% — that 5 and more!

Of course, you need to see these people regularly on a weekly basis when you’ll meet them for hygge.

However, there is also a dark side of hygge. It can be hard to become part of such circle. So if you just moved to Denmark, be patient with finding the people to hygge with.

The second rule — Dim lights

Make a fire, turn on low-temperature lamps, or lit a few candles to create a feeling of warmth.

85% Danes say that candles are an essential part of hygge!

Nearly 75 percent of Danes light candles at least once per week, and 28% do so every day.

Denmark is the leader in Europe in this area — consuming 6kg of candle wax per person every year. For comparison, in the second place is Austria, consuming just 3kg of wax per person.

The third rule — Be in the moment

Hygge life is simple and slow. Go offline, disconnect from social to turn the hygge on.

In the end, hygge is about learning to be content at the moment. Forget your life’s results for a while. Enjoy your family’s and friends’ company. Stop taking yourself so seriously.

The fourth rule — Enjoy good food

Danes love tasty food, especially meat and cookies.
Meik Wiking says, that the ideal Danish cookbook would be called “50 shades of meat and potato”.

Anything home-cooked is much more huggy than something ready made. Ideally, you create the meal for the dinner together!

Perfect drinks — coffee and tea! The Danes are the fourth-biggest coffee drinkers in the world. There you should definitely try Smørrebrød — traditional Danish open sandwich!

Food is a big part of the hygge atmosphere.

Smørrebrød and coffee

The fifth rule — Dress comfortably

Perfect outfit for hyggling is of course casual!

Put on your favorite knitted jumper, don’t forget gloves and scarf. Because Hygge is about warmth!

And always has a blanket nearby!

The sixth rule — Make Your Home a Hygge Hot Spot

Because hygge is about atmosphere, coziness, our own home is a perfect candidate for that!

71% Danes experience Hygge at home! They even have “Hyggekrog” — cosy place at home they make warm and beautiful.

A fireplace is a must-have in almost every Danish house! Books, candles, blankets — are often present in the Hyggekrog.

And to feel secure you need space. Denmark, again, is a leader here: 51 sqm/person is the top number in Europe.

Danes are also keen on furniture design. Just a remark — movies filmed in Denmark usually also fall into the category “furniture porn”! That’s how much they adore it!


Hygge in practice

Hygge transcends to all aspects of Danish life! 
I had a chance to visit Copenhagen in Nov 2017 and was impressed with the atmosphere there. All that I talked about above is true — it’s slow, relaxed, cozy. What else could you experience, when all the city center is decorated with hearts and lights. I was impressed how Danes are comfortable with such word as “love” and “happiness”. 
 For example, when I visited my new friend for the dinner — it was just as I described before: we cooked it together, sit on the couch near the fireplace, lit the candles, shared some interesting stories about our travels around the world. That was hyggling!

Hyggling with my new Danish friend — Bert

I lived in the rented apartment together with 4 Danish students. As it is common among students, the kitchen was kind of a mess. However, they had a beautiful huggy living room, with a fireplace, sofas, roundtable, beautiful lamps. And what’s most important, they gathered there every day to drink coffee and talk, despite the fact they all were working and studying at the same time. That was hyggling!

The small secret of Danish happiness

The secret is in small things. In Copenhagen, I had a chance to observe many moments that are not typically mentioned on the internet. For example, in the fence that surrounded the construction area, there was a window. It’s so logical — what if people want to see what’s behind? Through the window, they can just check it. Another time I saw a bike repair shop that had a tube for pulling the tire outside the building. So that anyone at any time could pull the tire of his bike and move forward. So cute and kind. And many-many such small things all around the city. In my mind, this is the true secret of creating happiness.

Small secret of Danish happiness

It should come as no surprise that winter is the most hygge time of year, and Christmas is the most hygge holiday of all. Embrace it by being with close family and friends, watching holiday movies, putting up decorations, and indulging in good food and drink. Go ice skating or sledding, and warm up with hot chocolate by the fire. Sit by the window and watch the snow fall outside.

Add hygge to your dictionary, and bring some happiness into your life with it!


If you find this helpful, click the 👏 below so others can enjoy some hygge as well.

Like what you read? Give Andriy Bas a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.