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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Let's Get Hygge

So have you heard about the latest concept, hygge (hue-guh).  If not, it may be because you haven't opened a paper or been in a bookstore lately.  For me, that would be, well..crazy.  But since I have been reading about it, I am also going to share some thoughts about it with you.

Hygge, the Danish concept of being cozy, has become the latest thing.  People search for it when looking for a good restaurant.  They try to achieve it in their homes.  They walk for hours, looking for just the right spot to have drinks.  Hygge is as Danish to Denmark as freedom is to Americans.  It is attributed to the highest rate of contentment and happiness in the world, found in Denmark.

I think I became intrigued with hygge as my life has hit some milestones, and life has taken on a personality of it's own.   In recent months, my husband and I were in the Black Hills.  We didn't have plans but we did start out our day going to some of our favorite places.  We leisurely traveled from one site to another, laughing, remembering, and just enjoying what we were doing and each other's company.  We stayed in each spot as long as we wanted, and when we had our fill, we were ready for the next thing.  We didn't watch the clock, but when we did notice the time, we were filled with awe at how slowly the day was going an amazingly good way.

As the day wore on, we wondered at just what it was about that day that allowed it to last, to linger, to develop slowly instead of rushing by in the normal blur.  We decided that it was a combination of a few things.  The first thing was that we had nothing over our heads, no places to be, nothing we had to do.  When you aren't living with time constraints, there is freedom to not be distracted by the passage of time.  How often, in our busy lives, does that happen?  In mine, not often, but I realized I really love it when it does.

The second thing we recognized was that we were surrounded by our favorite things and places.  We were in the Black Hills, a place that holds a great deal of magic for both of us, peace, and contentment.  That is why we bought our cabin there.  The restaurants and the pubs we haunt are familiar and comforting and peaceful.

The third thing, and probably one of the best things was our company.  I am so blessed with a partner in crime that I enjoy being with.  He is my best travel partner and my best friend.  He gets me, the good and the bad.  We laugh at the same things, dream the same dreams, and have cultivated a path that works for us.  Sitting in a winery near the fire, with a glass of wine and a charcuterie plater in front of us, talking or not, laughing, teasing, and feeling all hygge, we decided to dub this kind of day "Black Hills Days"  Since then, and before hearing about hygge, we would often say, this was another "Black Hills Day" whether or not we are in the hills.  When I started hearing about and reading up on hygge, our realized our Black Hills days and hygge weren't so far removed.

The thing that has struck me recently is that happiness, the state of being happy, is a choice we make.  It is developed in the small things we do, say, and our attitude.  Abraham Lincoln once said "I have found that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be".  Some of us wait for things to happen that make us happy, and as a result, aren't very consistently happy.  Others decide to be happy, right now, right here, in this moment.  I am going to be one of the second variety.  God only gives us one chance on this earth, and I want mine to be to cultivate happiness in those around me and in my sphere of influence.

So, as I embark on my own state of hygge in my home and life, you may see me pairing down things. Simplifying my environment.  You may see me shopping for large quantities of candles.  You may see me engage with my friends socially more often.  And you will know I am on a mission of happiness.  I hope you catch it too.  If you don't believe me, read "The Little Book of Hygge:  Danish Secrets to Happy Living" by Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Denmark.