Creating Hygge - Happy New Year 2018 from Eric

Lately I have been reading a lot about Denmark. Why Denmark? Because for several years now, Denmark has topped the list of the world’s happiest countries. Danes report ridiculous levels of happiness compared to the rest of the world. I wanted to know their secret. Who couldn’t use a little more happiness?

Winter in Idaho is not for the faint of heart. It is cold. It is windy. It is dark. People get grumpy and depressed. But winter in Denmark makes Idaho look like a tropical paradise. Cold? There are weeks where the temperature doesn’t go above -10F. Dark? The sun sets as early as 3:30pm. And winter can last as long as six months. And yet, if the studies are to be believed, Danes are the happiest people on Earth. EVEN IN WINTER! Why? Several reasons, but much of it has to do with the Danish concept of Hygge.

Hygge (pronounced hooga) is difficult to translate. The word literally translates into “well being” and it is often called “the art of coziness.” According to the Danes themselves, it is much more than that. One Danish writer calls Hygge “the sensation of enjoying the good things in life with good people.” Sitting by the fire with a hot drink and a warm blanket is Hygge. Candlelight is Hygge (Danes burn almost twice as many candles per capita as any other nation.) A glass of wine with good friends, that’s Hygge too. Time spent with family is definitely Hygge. The Danes take advantage of the cold, dark winters to create little pockets of light, warmth, coziness, and community. Hygge is not described as something you experience. It is something you make.

Interesting, but the theme of this month’s Brasspack is Activism. What does Hygge have to do with that? Quite a lot, actually. Danes know that there are things (like the climate) that they can not control. So rather than grow despondent over everything that is wrong, they set about creating little pockets of right. No matter how bad things get, they always have a place to retreat to, where they can recharge, center themselves, and prepare to return to the fight.

It sometimes seems like everywhere we look there is something to draw our outrage. Certainly we must do what we can to improve the world in which we live. But as you fight the good fight (whatever that means to you), or just try and survive the winter, don’t forget to enjoy good things with good people.

Lori and I hope that this new year will bring you happiness, success, and many opportunities to create Hygge with those you love.

Best wishes,


P.S. If you are interested in learning more about Hygge, I suggest Helen Russell’s excellent book, The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country.

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