Hygge, the art of living well

In my home, living a hygge life means adding beauty everywhere I can. (Photo: TNS)

My sister, Judy and I were in our PJs, snuggled under Pendleton blankets, savoring steaming cups of coffee. It was a rare moment of post-holidays quiet, and we were thoroughly enjoying doing nothing but catching up on each other’s lives.

She said, “We’re hygge-ing!”

“We’re what?” I asked her.

“Oh my gosh, Mary Carol, this is going to be one of the biggest things in the new year,” she said as she whipped out her laptop and did a quick Google search of one of today’s hottest trend: hygge.

If you’re like me, and you have never heard of hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”), here’s a quick fill-in: This Danish word doesn’t have a direct translation into English, but “cozy” seems to come the closest. One of Oxford Dictionary’s finalists for 2016’s word of the year, hygge is how the Danes make their long winters bright and land themselves at the top of the list of the world’s happiest people. Hygge is enjoying moments of comfort and relaxation, contentment and well-being, savoring life’s indulgences, having a heart of gratitude.

Like all big sisters, Judy seems to always know what’s up. She has been teaching me what is “cool” since we were kids. Her internet search that morning showed me how hygge is taking the world by storm. It makes sense to me, because right now, our world is stormy. Each of us needs a soul-filling sanctuary, a time and place to restore and revive. So, when we are filled up, we can get back out there and make a positive difference.

That’s exactly what Judy and I were doing on that lazy winter morning. And, I imagine, you have been doing your share of hygge-ing, too. Hygge may not have an English equivalent, but those of us who love our homes totally get it, don’t we? Many of us have been cultivating this practice in our lives for years as we feather our nests, making our spaces warm and welcoming.

Hygge is expressed differently by each of us. For me, it’s surrounding my dining table with good friends and good food. It’s quiet moments with Dan, curled up in front of the fireplace, reading a good book, Lyric at our feet. It’s relishing all my relationships, from my family to those I meet every day. It’s celebrating the big and the little moments. It’s choosing joy.

In my home, living a hygge life means adding beauty everywhere I can. A delightfully set table, even when it’s just an everyday meal. A luxurious bed covered in pillows and blankets that welcome me as I dive in each night. Sink-into chairs that look out over the lake. Warm lamp light. Walls covered with artwork that makes me smile. Shelves and tables dotted with treasures I’ve collected along my journey.

This year, I wish for you a life of hygge. Of togetherness with those you love. Comfort food. Clothes that make you feel sensational. Experiences that help you grow. A sanctuary of a home that wraps its arms around you. What more could we ask for out of life?

By Mary Carol Garrity, Tribune News Service
This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.