A quiet spot on the island of Crete

Imagine yourself taking a much-needed break away from the busyness and stress that everyday life dishes out. Not a break in the sense of a destination or vacation. Just a few moments or hours where you can relish in the moment of well-being and calmness. It doesn’t have to be at an expensive spa or restaurant; it can simply be a quiet corner in your own home.

HYGGE (pronounced Hue-guh) is a Danish word that has crept into the living styles of practicing hyggeligts all over the world. To the Danes, hygge is as much a part of their culture as ball games and barbeque are for us on this side of the pond.

Interesting that hygge sounds a lot like hug. And that’s exactly how it feels. It’s not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination (early 1800’s) and perhaps like me, many of you have been practicing hygge for years before you knew it had a name. So what exactly does this strange sounding word mean?  According to Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, it is described not as an event or idea, but rather a feeling – a sense of wellbeing and contentment that comes from “savoring the simple pleasures in life.”

Think candles, cuddling, and comfort food;

Or soft music, warm socks, and a cracking fire;

Imagine sharing a cup of hot tea or coffee with best friends in a secluded café;

Or being serenaded by the sound of raindrops as you nap under a cozy blanket on a porch swing.

Basically, anything that lowers your blood pressure – naturally. Think paddle board instead of surf board.

Colorado autumn serenity

This concept is near and dear to my heart, and in an earlier blog post I wrote about intentional living in regards to slowing down and lingering in each pleasurable moment. (From Crete to Colorado – June 2015) My experience living on a Greek island totally messed up my type-A American-multitasking-“git ‘r done!” frenzy, and I’m glad for it. I quickly realized that in embracing the “slowness” of island life on Crete, I became not only healthier but happier. I didn’t realize then that I was embarking on a soul search for this thing called hygge. But I’m delighted that my “slow food for the soul” idea has a name that’s fun to say (not to mention a lot shorter.)

What could be more hygge than espresso and chocolate shared with a friend?

What does hygge look like for you, and how can you repeat it so that it eventually becomes a habit or better yet, a way of life. Where would we find you if you could be anywhere in your “happy place?”

Would you be curled up under a faux fur blanket in front of the fire on a snowy night with no one but yourself and a good book and a cup of hot cocoa?

Or maybe in a quiet, low-lit café enjoying live jazz with a few good friends while slowly sipping on a glass of good merlot?

Or perhaps your cozy, life-is-good place is hanging out with family at home and playing games or telling stories together?

Take a minute and close your eyes and imagine. (There are no wrong answers except those that involve electronic entertainment, bright lights or loud music.)

Late night dining in Greece

Here’s the thing: For hygge to really work, it has to become a habit, not an after-thought or an occasional blip on the radar of a crazy busy life. Hygge doesn’t just happen. It’s an intentional effort to slow down, create and atmosphere and surround yourself with things and people that bring you joy and the feeling of well being. But we all have to start somewhere. So, here’s how I create hygge:

  1.  Candles. Definitely candles – year round.
  2. Prayer and playing worship music on my guitar
  3. Cuddling with my grandkids
  4. Falling asleep on a quiet beach
  5. A corner table in a quiet coffee shop shared with my best friend
  6. Baking (and eating!) fresh bread with real butter and pure honey
  7. Gardening: Planting, harvesting, sitting, playing in the dirt
Have a seat on the step and enjoy the company (look closely)

Honestly, I still have those days when my cup overflows with too many things to do, to say, to be. But with few exceptions, I do it to myself by being over committed or under prepared. On those days, I have to remind myself to BREATHE, forgive, and note that tomorrow is another day with huge potential to slow down and start over.

What about you? Everyone has a “happy place” that might not even be a location but a state of mind. I’d love to hear back from you about what you do in your home/work/life that makes you a happy hyggeligt. And if you haven’t yet mastered the art of hygge, start small – light a candle, listen to soft music and just breathe. It’s never too late to hygge yourself.

Instant hygge – a big furry cat and a rocking chair

9 thoughts on “HYGGE YOURSELF

  1. Cathy Ager

    Melanie, love the deer under your deck! Thank you for the lovely photos and gentle suggestions. Early morning stars giving way to the orange skies of sunrise do it for me. And moonlight on the snow. And candlelight, for sure. Cathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melanie A Crane

      Cathy, Since I’m not at all a morning person, i will trust you on the sunrise 😉 I’m more of a “moonlight on the snow” girl, and definitely candles no matter the time of day. And your home exudes hygge, as well as your hospitality!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gail

    Sometimes we are lucky enough to experience some encouraging , comforting , and meaningful words at just the right moment. Reading this just now was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Just picturing a place in my mind and seeing the beautiful photo of the water and rocks sent me to a different , much needed place. Thank you for your beautiful writing!


  3. Thank you Melanie. I read this book too after Sydney recommended it to me. I have always sought this way of life, with candles, warm fuzzy throws, warm tea or coffee, sitting in the breakfast nook watching the sunrise, flannel pjs and warm slippers, soft lighting, soft music, reading a great book, sitting in my favorite recliner, and trying to have enough quiet time to recharge my soul.


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