Let's learn how to hygge.

A friend of mine mentioned this book, "How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life," a few months ago, and I have been itching to get a hold of it because it sounded like something I could totally get behind.

Hygge is "a Danish/Norwegian word that translates as a feeling of coziness, hygge can also mean kinship and conviviality."

It's a beautifully designed book with lots of insight in to what hygge is and how to incorporate it in to your life.

"To be Nordic is by definition to be both a keen observer of and participant in nature."

Since a snowy, holiday trip to NYC, I have been challenged in my cold-weather practices. In NY, I saw parents pushing their kids in weather-ready strollers through five inches of snow like it was no big deal. As a sightseer, I was more interested in exploring than complaining about the cold. The snow was beautiful, not a hindrance. Unbeknownst to me, this was an experience of hygge.

Author Signe Johansen suggests ways to bring the outdoors in: buy fresh flowers weekly and incorporate soothing color shades in to your home (blue, gray, natural slate/blonde).

"We are conditioned to push ourselves more and more, to take up triathlons or challenging races, but being active outside in nature is a worthwhile goal in itself."

"Sport doesn't have to be brutal and fierce; it can be gentle and relaxed."

I love the encouragement to simply get outdoors and move. Signe suggests finding ways to be active that work for you. I'm a huge fan of living an intuitive life so this completely aligns with that way of approaching day-to-day choices, including movement and exercise. There's a large emphasis on focusing on what your body is capable of versus how it looks, which is pretty countercultural right now. Some of her ideas were hiking, walking, skiing and biking.

"Keep it simple, don't overcomplicate cooking."

The book gives lots of tasty recipes that all underline the value in planning ahead a bit and taking the time to enjoy what you are creating.

I am not much of a cook. Baking is way more my thing. Anyways, now that I am a stay-at-home mama and generally in charge of meals, I have been trying to formulate a general plan for weekly meals. What has been working for me is creating some umbrella categories for dinners. Monday's are "Breakfast for Dinner Night." Tuesdays are "Mexican Night." I am still working on other categories that work for the preferences of my family. I'd love to know what works for you in the comments below!

"Work efficiently, be active, eat what you love . . ."

Fika is a tasty treat within the Swedish tradition that is tied to the idea of hygge (Uh, yay! Hygge keeps getting better and better!). I really enjoy the quote above. It embodies a lot of what I have personally been trying to emulate. As I have been working on intuitive eating (see my post about intuitive eating), I have been trying to bake more when the mood strikes.

If you are looking for some more variety in your baking, check out the recipes I have been making lately.

". . . it's our love of alcohol that helps to maintain hygge all year round."

Hedonism = the pursuit of pleasure. In hygge, the goal isn't to get drunk, but focusing on flavor of the alcohol. I love this and think this is something a lot of other countries have a better handle on than the United States does. Our aim can be too often focused on quantity over quality. I love that hygge really emphasizes slowly down and savoring food, drinks, experiences, etc.

"We use the materials available in our surroundings to create hygge in our homes."

Nordic design is . . . minimalist, yet warm; a mix of old and new; focused on natural materials. There's a big focus on light; you can never have too many candles. Plants and books are also big on the list of Nordic design elements. Simplicity for the win!

"Above all, to live a life of hygge requires kindness."

Hygge emphasizes the need for kinship, community. We aren't to live life alone, isolated.

I personally love how hygge brings together some of the best things in life (nature, food, drink and friends/family) and encourages us to make them all a priority. The coziness and simplicity it exudes is extremely attractive.

What do you think about hygge? Are there ways you already have hygge in your life?