The Hygge Lifestyle Explained

A cozy lifestyle from Denmark is catching on everywhere

Millennials are stressed out. Growing up with the Internet and social media, we feel a constant need to check our phones and maintain an image of being busy. It’s no wonder that America, even with all of its wealth and innovation, is never in the top ten when it comes to overall happiness.

Happiness is subjective, but the World Happiness Report quantifies it using variables like income, governance, education, health, and community. Scandinavian countries have been dominating this list since its inception and I believe a contributing factor is the adoption of a humble Danish lifestyle called Hygge (pronounced hue-guh).

Now that it’s creeping into the Western zeitgeist, you may have heard it come up in conversation or seen a hashtag on Instagram.

But what is Hygge?

Roughly translated, ‘hygge’ means ‘coziness’ in Danish. The term is used to acknowledge and appreciate a pleasurable moment, no matter how insignificant it may seem to someone else.

The Hygge lifestyle promotes warmth, family, comfort, and simple pleasures. Imagine being around loved ones by a fire, wearing a knitted sweater, and eating a pastry with a warm coffee. That is Hygge.

Western countries seem obsessed with working out, eating right, looking good, and being productive. Hygge is the polar opposite.

There are no memberships, no products you have to buy. All you have to do is appreciate. Appreciate someone you’re talking to for who they are instead of how they look or where they work. Appreciate a nice dinner with family instead of worrying about how your stock portfolio is doing or what to post on Snapchat. Appreciate a delicious cake for how it tastes instead of thinking about how many calories you’ll have to burn off tomorrow. Appreciate reading a long book in a hammock instead of feeling like you should be working or catching up on emails.

Americans tend to equate money and productivity with happiness. While no one wants to be poor, I believe there’s wisdom to the old adage, “Money can’t buy happiness.” It seems those small Scandinavian countries to the east may have figured it out by focusing on simple pleasures and forming meaningful connections with others.

I think Hygge would blend nicely with an American youth trending towards a minimalist and experience-based lifestyle. If it truly catches on, who knows? Maybe we’ll crack the top 10 in happiness.