The word hygge dates back to the nineteenth century and is derived from the Germanic word hygg ja, which means ‘to think or feel satisfied’. It is a virtue, a point of pride, and a mood or state of mind. Hygge is something Danes identify with both in action and in being – it is part of their cultural foundation.
Because Danes see hygge as a way of life, they all try to make a cozy time together with family and friends happen. There are plenty of other times to worry about our lives and our stressors, and happiness comes from setting those times aside and being in the moment with the ones we love. For Danes, having a warm and lovely experience together is the ultimate end goal, and it is a great example to pass on to our children.
Hygge is a feeling as well as a way of being. It is eliminating the confusion and hysteria of all else. It is choosing to enjoy the most important, meaningful moments of our lives – those with our children and family and friends – and respecting them as important. It is keeping them simple, making the atmosphere positive, and leaving our troubles behind. It is wanting to be there in those moments, choosing to be there, and helping contribute to having a cosy time. With a big family, this takes effort because like all team projects, it is working together toward a shared goal. This is the opposite of being an individual and standing out from the crowd. Everyone has to want it and respect it. Everyone plays a part. If we are all willing to contribute to creating a cozy time together, it dramatically improves family get- togethers, which in turn dramatically affects our well- being and happiness.
Here are ten simple ways to introduce more hygge and togetherness into your family life:
- 1. Take the Hygge Oath
Make a pact with the whole family at the next gathering to think not about “I” but about being in the moment and trying to help make things run without conflict and controversy.
- 2. Have fun together
When the whole family spends time together, play games, inside and out, that everyone can take part in. Put your personal preferences aside and simply get out there and have fun.
- 3. Make it cozy
Make the atmosphere cosy with warm lighting, homemade craft projects and decorations, and food and drinks you’ve prepared together.
- 4. Keep things simple
We often have so many toys (both for adults and kids) that drown out the simple things, like the sound of the wind in the trees and the funny, sweet things our kids do on a daily basis. Distractions take away from hygge, which is about appreciating the most basic and real things. Keep it simple.
- 5. Be connected
Try to learn and practice having a cozy time together. Learning to hygge together, your kids will pass it on, which makes for better family connectedness overall.
- 6. Encourage play
Invite the older children to play with the younger ones “in real life,” not on an electronic device. Give them paints or let them play outside— just make sure family playtime is technology- free (or limited to certain times).
- 7. Teach your children that the family is a team
Instead of “every man for himself,” encourage every- one to root for the family team, and show your kids what part they can play— how they can help and contribute in various activities and projects. This spirit of cooperation and togetherness makes everyone feel more secure and happy.
- 8. Celebrate everyday togetherness
Remember that hygge isn’t limited to big family gatherings. It can be achieved with just one or two people. You can declare a “hygge night,” for instance, on a weekday, implementing the ideas discussed in this chapter.
- 9. Sing!
Sound silly? It works! It’s fun and it’s very hyggeligt. Why limit singing to the holidays? Kids absolutely love it, and adults do too.
- 10. Practice reframing if you get stressed
Reframing is truly a powerful tool. Everything can be reframed. The apple pie came out soggy? Now everyone can use a spoon! The soccer game got rained out? Time for a family Monopoly tournament! Remember, by doing this you pass it on to your kids, making them better at dealing with their own stressful reactions.