“Paradise is not a place; it’s a state of consciousness.”
Wednesday was gray and rainy, and at the end of the day, a staff member called to check in on me. “You’ve been quiet today.” I have to admit, the day had been so blissfully peaceful that I’d barely glanced at my phone or my email in-basket. Instead, I’d been happily puttering around the house. I had a fire going in the fireplace, soup simmering on the stove, and had taken the opportunity to unpack a box of books that had been in the garage, unopened, since I moved to my house over five years ago. The books brought back memories and I took my time glancing through them before I put them on my shelves.
As a book lover, I don’t just read, I immerse myself in the full, sensory experience! I inhale the distinct smell of the paper, turn the smooth pages, sip a warm cup of tea as I read, and let my mind go wherever the narrative takes me. Reading is one of my favorite simple, mindful pleasures, but just about everything I did on that rainy day gave me a wonderful feeling of comfort and contentment.
As I was thinking over my day, I realized that I had immersed myself in what the Danish would call “Hygge.”
What the heck is Hygge?
In the last couple of years (and particularly in the winter months), I’ve noticed a certain word popping up on blogs and social media. I’d never heard of “Hygge” before, but it turns out I’d been practicing it for years!
So, what does hygge mean, exactly?
Hygge is a Danish concept, and it can’t really be translated to one single word. It’s the feeling of cozy contentment and well-being that comes from enjoying the simple things in life. The fact that Hygge is embraced by the Danish people is believed to be one of the reasons Denmark is always at the top of the list of the world’s happiest countries, despite its long cold winters that many people would find depressing.
I think we can learn a lot from the Danish people. In fact, their simple cozy lifestyle incorporates many of my own teachings. Consider my day, staying inside with a box full of books, a warm fire, tea and hot soup. During those quiet hours, I paid little attention to social media, and didn’t even notice that my phone was on silent.
In addition to cozy simplicity, my day incorporated mindfulness, peace, and gratitude. All those things combined created a feeling of well-being that nourished my very soul, and prepared me for the rest of my week.
Feeling tired, blue, or overwhelmed? Schedule a cozy day of self-care.
If you’ve been stuck inside due to Covid, or bad weather (or both) I challenge you to come up with your own “hygge game plan.” Dedicate a full day to it, or even better, incorporate some elements into every day!
Here are some suggestions, but feel free to add whatever gives you the calm, cozy feeling that I’ve described:
- Light some candles and enjoy their subtle, flickering light. The Danish people prefer simple, white, unscented candles – but if you love scented candles, that’s fine too.
- Turn off the heat, and build a fire in the fireplace. The smell of the fire and the sound of the crackling flames is mesmerizing.
- Still chilly? Put on your softest sweatpants and socks, and wrap yourself in a warm, cozy blanket.
- If you need to move your body, try some simple yoga poses. Stretch into a downward dog, then try some slow spinal twists. Finish by lying down and focusing on your breath.
- Take out your journal and write down some observations, don’t edit your thoughts, just let them flow. If you need a prompt, write about some of the simple things in your life that give you joy.
- Nourish yourself with healthy, delicious foods. Make a beautiful salad, or order some soup from your favorite restaurant. Eat slowly and savor every bite.
- Enjoy a cup of tea, or a glass of wine with a good book.
- Have a warm bath. Throw some Epson salt in the water for a detoxifying soak!
I’m looking forward to me next cozy day of self-care, and I hope this has inspired you to plan your own blissful day. It doesn’t take much time or money to enjoy these simple pleasures, so give yourself permission to take a deep breath, slow down, and enjoy your hygge moments!