The word HYGGE -- pronounced HOO-GA -- might look and sound like a stylish, comfy new chair at IKEA, but it's actually something even better. It's the Scandinavian lifestyle trend that explains why Nordic nations always top the "happiest places to live" charts each year. What is hygge, and how can you add a little to your life? Here are a few ideas.
You'll see loads of saunas in Scandinavia, but very few gyms like we have here. That's because exercise is better when you do it outdoors! There's the fresh air, the scenery, both of which move your focus a little more from the stats of your workout to actually enjoying it. So lace up your trainers, skip the treadmill, and run outside!
While you're at it, try adjusting your workout to include exercise that's not as solitary. Join a soccer team, run with a friend or two, head out for a hike with a group, or find some other form of exercise that involves more than just you. This helps build relationships and makes exercise more fun, both of which are better for your body and soul.
This is an important aside, too: you'll feel that hygge joy best when you're outside, just being still. Sure, exercise outdoors is important, but so is just getting outdoors to reconnect with nature. Hike into the woods and spend an hour just watching, listening, and relaxing. Kayak or canoe into a lake, and just float along. Hear the birds, or just the wind; enjoy the scents and sensations of the wind. It's so good for you!
Americans in particular work more, are stressed more, and accomplish less than their Nordic counterparts. If possible, work less, but smarter. Take the stress out of work when and how you can, and for the love of all that is holy, if you've earned vacation time, take it!
I tend to eat on the go a lot, and when I do sit down with my daughter for a meal at home, it's usually rushed or eaten while watching TV. Add a little hygge to your life by making slow family meals a priority. TV off, phones down, and just enjoy a meal together.
We seem to be completely diet-obsessed in America, but not in a good way. Rather than focusing on small portions of what we love, in moderation, we're looking at calories strictly as fuel, and we're not enjoying what we eat. I mean, if you love kale, good on you. Eat tons of it! But if you love cheesecake, feel free to indulge in that too, but remember, moderation is key here.
Nordic folk drink more coffee than anyone else in the world, and it's how they drink it that matters. They take a small mid-day break to just relax, enjoy a cuppa, get energized, and then get back to the grind. There's no rushing to gulp down a caffeine drink, then scurrying back to work. Slow down, relax, and hygge!
If you want to learn more about hygge, and how it can lead to more happiness, read Signe Johansen’s new book, "How To Hygge." Do you hygge? What other tips and ideas can you share?
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