Right about at this point in the winter is when I feel like crawling under my bed covers and staying there until mid-March when the temps start climbing up to mid-50s. It’s gray outside and though I work out several times a week, I feel a bit sluggish. I know it hasn’t been a bad winter like last year so I shouldn’t complain.
But I often wonder how other people cope with the winter when days of no sun are quite pronounced. How do people further North, like in Sweden and Denmark, deal with endless days of darkness? And how come these countries always come up high in rankings of happiest countries in the world despite long winter nights? Doesn’t the sun play a major role in our overall happiness and well-being?
Here’s what I found in my informal research. It turns out that the Danes often talk about hygge (pronounced hyu-gah) as a trait that’s critical in their winter survival. Though this concept is not restricted to winter, hygge conveys a certain amount of coziness and well-being in our lives. It means enjoying a cup of tea alone or with a friend by the fire. It means lighting up candles while we prepare a hearty meal for our families. It means enjoying and savoring the moment whatever time of the year.
Hygge is also not restricted to material aspects of coziness. It also has to do with the overall attitude of gratitude and niceness that we in the US associate with Thanksgiving. Isn’t it just a nicer way to live? And while I know everyday realities will come into play as I add a little hygge in my life, I am still willing to give it a try. Life is tough and I know that a little tenderness and niceness will go a long way for me and my family.