"Hygge is about giving your responsible, stressed-out achiever adult a break. Relax.”
Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living
Sunset in New York City today is at 4:36pm, and evenings grow longer by the minute. It's the perfect time to learn from the Scandinavians how best to prepare for and fully embrace this time of year instead of becoming frustrated, sad, and restless until sunnier days return. One of my all-time favorite feelings is being cozy, and it's an atmosphere I strive to create around me constantly, I adore it so. The Danish concept of hygge has become more familiar lately in the U.S., but it's so much more than lighting candles and snuggling up in a soft, fuzzy blanket. That can be part of it, sure. Hygge also encompasses an emotional and psychological sense of well-being and peace, like the calm feeling of being warm at home with nowhere to be while snow falls outside. It's being at peace indoors when the world outside looks dark and harsh. Once you tap into this contemplative contentedness, it can infuse all parts of your life!
Norway has its own cozy concept called koselig, one of the reasons residents of this rugged, northern land LOVE winter and don't just muscle through and gripe about it each year like so many Americans do. Koselig can be a noun (very similar to Danish hygge), and it can be a verb too; it generally means being together feeling close, warm, friendly, intimate, and making deeper, authentic connections in relationships - indoors or outdoors. Create koselig in your life by keeping big lights off all season and only turning on dimmer lamps, light some candles or your fireplace, make a bonfire outside, play relaxing music at low volume, have some warm drinks and simple foods, and put out the fluffiest blankets and pillows you've got. How closely you connect with others is a lovely part of koselig, so even if you can't have people over right now, bundle up in woolen socks and scarves and go for a safe, physically distanced walk outdoors with your favorite people to appreciate the pleasant companionship and share those good vibes.
Norwegians grow up well-adapted to the colder months by always dressing appropriately to keep safe and dry and find great vitality in spending time outdoors and connecting with nature, even in the harshest weather. This love of outdoor winter sports and activities is all part of friluftsliv, the Norwegian term for their passion for nature and open-air living. Kids are on the playground throughout winter, just bundled up against the harsh weather. Adults wear exercise and ski clothes around a lot and bring a quick change and spare shoes with them when necessary. Norwegians don't fight the seasons, they herald them all in and make plans on how to best live fully in each one.
I'm all about that hygge life, and because there are so many ways to use light to celebrate the darkness indoors, I've partnered with Alibris, which supports independent sellers of new and used books, music, and movies. CLICK HERE to purchase rare and out-of-print books for special, unique gifts - or to purchase Meik Wiking's The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living!
Ready to head to Scandinavia? My first time in Norway and Sweden was February 2002, and I wouldn't trade those wintry memories for anything. Where will friluftsliv take you next?
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