Scandinavian countries, as dark and cold as they are in the winter, are always at the top of happiness surveys. So what can they teach us? The Danish concept of hygge (“hue-gah“) may be a useful way to help us reorient ourselves—away from our frantic American pressure to do more and more. Hygge invites us to back off, snuggle in, and do less. Hygge is sometimes translated as “coziness,” which is sort of an inexact translation, or “the art of creating intimacy,” which might be closer, because hygge speaks to a way of doing or being.
What would a hygge resolution look like? Hygge invites us to slow down. Taking care of ourselves doesn’t need to mean going out for mani-pedis or blowing lots of money on spa treatments. We could stay home, break out the fuzzy socks, and have a quiet evening with family over hot chocolate instead. In slowing down, hygge invites us to do fewer things. The quintessential image of hygge is to be wearing a warm sweater and drinking hot tea/coffee/chocolate inside by the light of candles or a fire, while it snows or rains outside. It’s the sort of thing we Americans tend to overschedule ourselves out of. We say “oh, I’ll have time to slow down in a few days, after I finish all these other things,” but that day never comes.
So, where do we start with a resolution to slow down? Just saying it isn’t enough. Here are some possibilities to consider:
The important aspect to creating more time and space is to be intentional—pay attention to how you’re really spending your time, what it feels like you’re spending your energy on, and ask yourself if it’s absolutely necessary. How much space and time can you make in your life? Only then can you start committing to new things, like creative pursuits and exercise plans.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018!