Sunday, January 8, 2017

Taking Action with Hygge!

By now you probably have heard of Hygge. Articles in the New York Times and the New Yorker have extolled its virtues. So have bloggers including one of my favorites, Monique at La Table de Nana, in her New Year's post. Susan Branch wrote of it in great detail in her holiday post.

The term comes from the Danish and while there is no word-for-word translation, it conveys a feeling of coziness and conviviality.

Snuggled up by the fire with hot cocoa? Hygge. Wearing your favorite fleecy top and cozy socks or slippers? Hygge. Reading a great book with the dog or cat at hand? Snuggled under a cozy quilt? Hygge.

Pronounced "hoo-guh," think about the stranger who says hello to you, wanting nothing in return but a smile. (Like my New Year's walk at the Ditch!).

Think about comfort food. Meatloaf. Home baked bread. Chicken pot pie. Steaming pots of soup. All of which sounds like dinner with Rick and all of which is Hygge.

I quote the New Yorker article above here: "Louisa Thomsen Brits, the author of “The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection,” calls it “a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of very real life” and “a cure for SAD”—seasonal affective disorder—“in book form.”

Again from the New Yorker: "Helen Russell, a British journalist who wrote “The Year of Living Danishly,” defines the term as “taking pleasure in the presence of gentle, soothing things,” like a freshly brewed cup of coffee and cashmere socks." I might add real maple syrup, baking and your favorite pet to the list.

Last year my guiding word was "Listen." I listened a lot and I heard birdsong, waves on the beach, winds in the pines. But more than frequently, I didn't like what I heard. I am thinking this year of having two words. "Hygge" and "Action." "Action," because I need to "do" and not just "think," whether it is complete creative projects, meet a goal or work to change the world. And "Hygge" because maybe it's yet another way to get back to my heritage, this time on my Dad's side. And besides, what's not to love about cuddling up by the fire, knitting, purring cats and hot tea?

I have a lot of Danish in my heritage -- my great grandfather came over in the 1800s from Copenhagen with his wife, so my grandmother was first generation American from Danish parents. While I've never been there, I often read studies that say that the Danish are among the happiest people in the world. Their taxes would kill you -- they're very high, about 45 percent. But they actually get something from it. Time for a very hygge-like cookie!

According to an article in US News, Education is free -- there is no tuition, even at university and each student receives a $900 stipend from the state. The parental leave system is the most generous in the world and there is free quality healthcare which reduces risk and promotes better health. They are working actively to combat climate change and actively support both the employed and unemployed with development or job-assistance opportunities.

Now, one can argue till the cows come home about what is in part a welfare state and whether or not it is a good thing. But Denmark takes care of its people far better than the U.S. does. The cost of living is pretty high. But when we get something from it, I don't mind paying. And we can learn a lot from their example.

And people are happy. The government works.

And to be honest, I love hot chocolate by a fire. I love cozying up in the winter when a storm is blowing and feeling safe and warm. I love holding the Lizzie, even though she would prefer I not. And I love to bake and cook and make things and savor Rick's bread, home made and so delicious.

I feel compelled to take action this year. To be the change I want to see in the world and work to facilitate it. To not be passive but productive. To create, to write, to experience, to do. Rather than following like sheep, I'd prefer to knit from the wonderful wool those sheep (and llamas!) provide.

I have a great need to cozy in these days -- and not just because of the weather. I long to really reflect on this beautiful life that I have, the happiness I feel and the things that bring happiness to me. Family, friendships, love, warmth, joy. Hot tea or cocoa on a cold day (and this morning it is 6-F and the windchill below zero).

So, this year, it is two words. The "doing" word and the "being" word.

Here's to hygge and action. World, I am ready to take you on -- and to take care of myself, too.

Delighted to be linking this week to Share Your Cup, where you will find loads of wonderful links and tons of inspiration! 


  1. Love this, Jeanie. Agree 100% with everything you say! Right on.

  2. Now I know where everyone is getting the word "hygee" from. There is a book I requested that is all about hygyee. Those duvets very, kitty yes and yes enjoying your company hygee.

  3. Some years are for quiet words, and yes, other years call for action words. Though Hygge is a "buzz word" these days, it's a concept so many of us love and embrace: cozy cups of coffee, books, blankets, hearty meals.

    AND... I'll be in Copenhagen next month. We've been there once before and the folks ARE very happy, at least the ones I came in contact with! I can't wait to visit again ;-)

  4. Thank you my darling for this so wonderful lesson, you know that I so love to learn new things ... always !

    Your great grandmother was really a wonderful woman !

    Hope your New Year is off to a good start,
    I'm sending hugs and ever much love to you,
    may the new week ahead be filled with joy,

    with much, so much thankfulness

    Xx Dany

  5. Love the coziness of it all. Kind of smiled at the chicken image. Careful girl or you'll be fried.

    Just tried to send you a "thank you" email re my cousins and it was returned to me. ????

  6. Jeanie, I think you are meant for that word/concept! I read one of the articles about it too -- so appealing. But it's you, not me, even though I've recently spent hours and hours under a fuzzy blanket that my sister gave me for Christmas.

    best... mae at

  7. I think the German word for that is 'Gem├╝tlichkeit'! I'm glad your life offers so much for you to enjoy. Havea great week, hugs, Valerie

  8. The Danish people are a great example. How cool that your great-grand-parents were from there. :)Everything in this post sounds calming and soothing and I'm all for that while we struggle on in this troubled world. I like that your word last year was Listen. I need to do more of that and not let my mind wander so much. I think I will adopt that for this year. "Hi Lizzie"

  9. What perfect words! Love that teacup, but you knew I would. Yes, I always love cozy and comfort all around me. Homemade bread made in front of you, how special! And a reluctant cuddlier kittie too.

  10. What a fantastic choice of words. Hygge! I that that is my motto in life. I know is Danish but 3 of my grandparents came here from Sweden and even though it is a Danish word, I wonder if it is Scandinavian idea. Life used to be very hard there- and its true- they get a good life for that tax money. Here we are left on our own practically. It is a different view of life for sure, and sometimes I wonder if I really am a good American because I don't buy into the work to death attitude. Its crazy strong here in New Eng;and for certain.. Great post. I enjoyed reading it and I liek how you think. Hugs-Erika

  11. I am going to re-read this post and learn to the art of Hygge!! You have inspired me to not only think about things but to DO things! Thank you. I'm not Danish but I have lots of Norwegian blood in me!! Close?

  12. I wish you wonderful experiences with your new words Jeanie.
    lovely to Consider these Danish ways, especially in winter, but also any time of year.

  13. What a lovely post and I do wish you the best with your new words, Jeanie! I've been to Copenhagen many years ago and visited the Little Mermaid! I remember what a beautiful country Denmark is and the people were lovely! Hopefully you'll get to go one of these days!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

  14. I really love this post! Hygge sounds like a wonderful way to absorb and just enjoy the cold, dark days rather than moaning about them. Moaning is what I normally do. Your words for the year are perfect and you've obviously given this much though. I'm excited for you!

  15. Somehow I missed reading about hygge before this post. Thank you for sharing it. I think I have some more reading to do now.

    I like your words for the year. Good luck in your endeavors. Happy belated New Year!

  16. I think Rick's bread is quite unbeatable...A blogger I know is at his notch.
    Are those cookies yours?
    I think we need that recipe­čśë
    I get the distinct impression that you are are a doer:)
    And that your life is hygge..continue!

  17. Great post and so true. Thanks for sharing these photos and the post Jeanie.

  18. I have only one, important question: now that we have a new buzzword, can we toss the Marie Kondo books? I certainly hope so! :-)

  19. I like the idea of hygge and action. I would so like to find that space. I usually get so wound up over the action part it's hard to find hygge.

  20. Love the concept; love the Danes.

  21. Oh Jeanie, so delicious! I love the new word, and I love having a word for the year (or 2). Your relatively new camera is also proving to be a great tool for you - illustrations are perfect. After a rather introspective day, your message is perfect. Thank you...and keep the focus. I am sure you will.

  22. I just realized two things. One is that I actually managed somehow to get here and leave a comment BEFORE your post appeared in my email! How did that happen? I don't know. Blogger's slow, and I always get your post a day after it goes up. It was fun to be higher up in the comment thread and not feel like a straggler.

    And, here's something else. I got my About page revised this weekend, and where I put some of my personal preference pairings (ocean or mountain, back road or interstate, etc.) I added a new pairing: active or passive. Like you, I chose "active." Here's to an active, involved, satisfying year for us both!

  23. Hi Jeanie,
    I first learned about Hygge from Pom on her blog Pom Pom's Ponderings and have been fascinated by it ever since. It's all the things you mentioned wrapped up in a warm comforting hug! I read some time back about students in Denmark being offered free accommodation in exchange for helping out with the elderly, a remarkable idea and one that I think should be encouraged by everyone.
    I can see the family resemblance between you and your great grandmother, how interesting it will be to learn more about that side of your family.
    Maggie Xx

  24. A great word Jeannie! I am using it a lot relating to all I love and appreciate about winter. It is very cold here and we've been enjoying being inside all cozy and thankful. Enjoyed all your photos, especially Lizzie! I'm sure she loves your new favorite word..............

  25. Jeanie, I have heard this word before, hygge. That's a good word you chose for the new year. I am lovin' all the hygge pictures on here today, especially that pretty Victorian tea cup and the cozy fire and homemade bread. That's great that Rick makes homemade bread - I can see why you savor it. The word you chose last year is so special, LISTEN. So often we don't listen to the beautiful song of nature around us. I plan of spending more time in nature this year. Such a wonderful post of hygge, Jeanie.

    Blessings to you in these January days.


  26. Thanks for introducing me to this new word, one we ought to practice rather than just contemplate. So your taking action after is most apt. I've been quite overwhelmed by events in 2016, both in the world and personal life, and particularly distressed by the Oxford Dictionary picking "post-truth" as their word of the year. Hope hygge will usher in a better year. :)

  27. I can't even tell you how much I loved this post. That word: hygge. It is a perfect word for the new year. My children have deep Danish roots on their father's side. My son and his wife just spend nearly a week in Denmark with her parents who have been there for a year. They loved every minute of the time. My DIL came home with one souvenir. It is the most beautiful vase with a scene from Danish countryside fired into fine china. It is truly a treasure.

    Action. Yes, it is the time to take action and use the voices and the gifts we have to bring about the change that we hope to see.

  28. OK, I love this post, and so totally needed to read something like this today!

    I hadn't heard of Hygge, but I think it's a great concept, and am very grateful to you for bringing it to my attention.

    Also, I think those are great words for the year. I hope they help you to make 2017 an amazing year!

  29. I do love the sound of hygge, especially since snuggling under a quilt with something hot to drink seems to be just about all I can muster the energy for this time of year. Yes, I believe I am one of those affected by SAD. I have come to think of winter as a season of enforced rest. The long winter nights and grey days make me want to hibernate, so why not go with the flow! I know I'll come back to life in the spring :)

  30. What a wonderful post. And I'm with you on the taxes. I'd much rather pay high taxes if we all were taken care of. Folks are so afraid someone is going to freeload on their dime. Did you see
    that NY is planning on offering free tuition? And at least one college in NC is headed in that direction.
    Again, really enjoyed the post:)

  31. I went back and read your past posts – loved your New Year vintage cards. You did read a lot of interesting books in 2016; that was quite a variety. I have never heard the word hygge and will go back to the link you gave. The concept sounds very attractive. I went to Denmark 2 or 3 times and enjoyed my visit. One of the visits I enjoyed the most there was going to Isak Dinesen’s house (Karen von Blixen-Finecke) who wrote “Out of Africa.” There were no tourists that day and we stayed a long time in her home and garden – I loved it. I meant to write a post about it, and it is on the list.

  32. This is the first I have heard about hygge. I think it will become part of my vocabulary. I, too, love to snuggle and relax and enjoy the peace while reading or knitting or cuddling a dog. Thanks for your beautiful words - and pictures.

  33. I think that hygge is embedded in us all, or rather, a desire for it. I think that every culture and society has some word for this yearning for peace and pull toward something greater than us, something gentler and generous than us. I had just heard about hygge a few months ago from a blogger, and I need to look into it, for I TOO desire that cozy feeling from my surroundings every day! LOVELY!

  34. Jeanie, I have visited Denmark and it is certainly a beautiful country! Loved reading your thoughts and I want to be present in the small things! I just want to "Be Still"! Blessings, my friend!

  35. I read that article in our newspaper too. I love the concept.

  36. I love the tea cup and the saucer.. looks stunning..

  37. My sister and I were talking about Hygge over Christmas.
    A word and concept for what so many of us enjoy :-) Love it.
    Your others words are good too Jeanie.
    My little word is recycled from a past year because I think it may take me awhile to get a handle on it ... I find SIMPLIFY to be quite complicated LOL.

  38. I love this post! But I also feel like I live under a rock these days as I have not heard of hygge. But I LOVE the concept. I need to give myself permission to find more hygge in my life. I'm often racked with guilt when I relax on the couch or have an unproductive afternoon, but it's an important part of self care. But my shouldless days are all about hygge, and I am over due for one so will be doing a shouldless day over the upcoming long weekend. I'm just exhausted right now from work travel (I'm in Jackson right now for work) and other commitments in my life so really need to figure out how to embody the idea of hygge on a much more regular basis!!

  39. I love, love, love this post! I had not heard of hygge, but am anxious to learn more. I agree with you on the idea that a country that truly takes care of its people can be a country that works and where people are content and happy. I would be more than willing to pay more to get more. But..... the state our government, especially after Jan. 20, is one reason I need to learn more about hygge. I, too, want to be active this year and use my writing for good. I've picked out areas of passion to focus my efforts on. Otherwise, I get overwhelmed. I haven't officially chosen a word for the year, but I have been thinking about hope a lot. And now hygge.

  40. Sweet post, Jeanie. All things hygge! Cats are definitely hygge!

  41. I did not know the meaning so very glad I read this! Love the photos... and the idea. And of course, the cat photos! Wishing you much Hygge and Action this year! Xoxo (Also love the title, The Year of Living Danishly. Must check it out!)

  42. Hygge is a new word for me. Now I'm going to make experiencing it more a priority in my life.

    We share Danish heritage. My paternal ancestors were Danish. My great-great grandmother was from Denmark. My middle name, Marie, is a family name from her. I've never been to Denmark, but have always been interested in all things Danish. My china is even from Denmark in a color called Christianshavn Blue. Christianshavn is where our family surname of Christiansen originated. My brother and sister-in-law recently returned from a trip there and loved it! They said the people there were so friendly and happy. Someday, maybe I'll finally get to go explore Denmark myself.

    I think your two words for the year are excellent areas to focus on. I can't wait to hear the many ways you'll be actively doing and being this year.

  43. What a beautifully well written blog, I have heard of this word for the first time in quite a few blogs over the last couple of months, it seems as if it has surfaced from nowhere but what a wonderful aspect of life to be safe and secure in your own world where you can shut everything bad out for at least a while, I have also just found your blog and look forward to reading many more, I hope you will follow mine

  44. Jeanie, I had never heard of the word until Carol from Art and Sand did a post about it. Love the word and I do feel contentment with so many things in my life! Yes, I think we could learn a thing or two from the Danish. Thanks for sharing with SYC.


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