I often pick a word at the beginning of the New Year as my theme for the year. It’s easier than a resolution (although I often make those too) and helps me keep my intentions for the year top of mind. This year, my word for 2017 is the Danish word “hygge.”
Are you familiar with the word Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah)? It’s been everywhere the last couple of weeks: in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and my personal favorite, this bitter article (in English) from The Copenhagen Post on how the British are leaving the European Union and taking the concept of Hygge with them. Bastards!
The concept of Hygge is integral to the Danish culture. It’s so important that it was recently voted one of the ten values the Danish people most value. (Other Danish values: freedom, gender equality, and trust.) So just what is hygge? I particularly like this explanation from The New Yorker:
“a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”
The closest English word to hygge is “cozy” and perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to it. Besides the obvious connection with my last name (Kozee), the word reminds of reading to my daughter every night before bed when she was a child. I’d tuck her in, smooth the covers, and scoot down beside her. And every night, she’d say with satisfaction, “Now, we’re cozy.”
Hygge is about feeling cozy and satisfied while the wicked world storms outside. But hygge doesn’t mean being cozy alone. Instead, it conveys a feeling of comfortable intimacy with the ones you love. You and your loved ones share a cup of tea and some comfortable conversation.
I need that cozy feeling right now. Like so many of us, last year was not the best year for me. I started the year with a challenge I was not prepared to handle and even though everything actually worked more quickly than I could have imagined it seemed to set the tone for the year. An astonishing opportunity appeared only to disappear once I started believing it might actually come true. My poor son had three car accidents; none of them of his fault but all of them causing us financial distress. My commute to and from work, always a challenge, somehow got even worse resulting in a new normal of being on the road for at least three hours a day.
I feel stressed just from writing all that! I obviously need to look at my life and see what changes I can make to minimize the regularly occurring awfulness, but I can’t stop the variable awfulness that intrudes on all of our lives sometimes. And sometimes, we just need to retreat to our cozy spot with a hot beverage to soothe our souls.
So I declare 2017 the Year of Hygge! Tonight, I’ll light my candles, put on my thick comfy socks and my thick comfy sweats and drink my hot beverage while I sit with my loved ones and read How to Hygge, which arrived today from Amazon.
What makes you feel happy and cozy? What’s your word for 2017? I’d love to hear.
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