Have a happy, hygge winter!
I am not a winter person. I actually loathe it. I’m hardly even a spring or fall person. I like the heat, the sun, the summer and everything that comes along with it. That said, I choose to live in New England where winters are long and summers go by in a flash. Why? Maybe I am crazy. Maybe we all are...but something about this place just feels like home.
A friend of mine recently shared an article from Quartz.com about Scandinavians with me that helped me to gain a new appreciation for the more tundra-like months. Their winters make ours seem like a day at the beach. Freezing cold temperatures and barely any light in some of the northern regions could be a recipe for depression disaster. But did you know that the Scandinavian countries actually have some of the highest happiness rates in the world?!
Jamie Kurtz, a psychology professor who teaches a course on Scandinavian happiness at James Madison University says the Danish word hygge (say it like hooga) is the key to understanding why these countries thrive instead of dive during the winter months.
Although there is no exact English translation for hygge, Kurtz says the word evokes coziness and togetherness. “It’s not just cozy with a blanket and a glass of wine,” Kurtz tells Quartz. “It’s also interpersonally cozy—so having a few people with you talking about issues and things you care deeply about. Having some candles lit, maybe a nice warm drink in your hand. Feeling safe and content.”
Rather than surviving winter, they genuinely embrace and enjoy it. They live in unison with the seasons, doing plenty of outdoor activities during the summer, and then appreciating the value of indoor activities during the winter. Kurtz says, “I’ve heard Danes and Norwegians talk about how they really look forward to winter, because they get to cultivate this side of themselves.”
Interestingly enough, the word hygge sort of reminds me of the word, hug. And those feelings of togetherness and coziness, feeling safe and content, are all feelings I associate with a hug. So give yourself a winter's hug! It may be chilly outside, but it can be toasty warm in your heart!