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What is Hygge and Why You Need It to Live Well

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What is Hygge and Why You Need This Danish Concept to Live Well

As many of you read this (outside of my Danish friends!), you’re probably reading asking yourself, “What in the world is hygge and where can I find this thing?” Well, first things first, it’s pronounced “hoo-ga” in English, and hygge isn’t a thing that you can buy, ingredient you can use, or something to add to your wish list…it’s a way of BEING. It’s something we all need to do/feel/make time for STAT.


Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga or hue-gah in English) originally comes from a Norwegian word meaning “wellbeing” and was integrated into Denmark in the 19th century (1). A friend introduced me to this concept some time ago and I thought to myself this is INCREDIBLE. The idea that an entire culture and community embrace a level of wellness that’s non-negotiable and vital to feeling happier, healthier, and ultimately more productive and focused on other aspects of our life was a game-changer. It’s also a concept we can all apply to our lifestyles right now for a better wellbeing and balance. On NS, I’m always talking about stress, mindfulness, and other pillars of our health that take our wellness from good to optimal. Exploring the simple joys in life is just one of those NS pillars of wellness. Hygge is the epitome of my philosophy on making sure you find time each day to do the things you love to do.

You know those things you do in life that make you go “ahhhhh” and breathe a huge sigh of comfort/ease/bliss/happiness/pleasure/gratitude/comforting/secure/snug all in one swift feeling and moment? That’s hygge. No wonder the Danish are literally the happiest country in the world (2).

I’ve also heard hygge described by a native Dane as “Thanksgiving”, i.e. a cozy meal around a big table with your family and friends and general good vibes. I’d love a little bit of Thanksgiving in my life every day! You can start by incorporating daily gratitudes, whether that’s in a gratitude journal, in your meditation practice (if you have one), or by just thinking three things you’re grateful for in the morning. Then continue on that hygge feeling by manifesting good vibes, both mentally and physically.

Let’s take note from the Danish, friends. Here’s a list to get you started on what hygge looks like physically and ways you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.


  • cuddling with your loved one
  • putting on warm socks after a long day
  • taking a hot bath
  • meditation
  • playing with your puppy or pet
  • sitting down after a long day on your feet
  • lighting a candle that makes you feel relaxed
  • smelling your favorite bouquet of flowers
  • drinking hot Turmeric Milk
  • sitting fireside with a glass of red wine
  • looking up at the sky while laying on the grass
  • feeling the sun on your skin
  • watching the sunrise or sunset
  • cooking your favorite dish
  • setting the mood through lighting
  • breathing in fresh air and finding stillness within
  • hugging someone
  • watching a movie under a fluffy blanket
  • dinner with family or friends (no phones!)
  • practicing gratitude
  • tea or coffee with a friend to chat and catch up
  • making your home a cozy sanctuary (blankets, candles, things you love)

The philosophy and mindfulness behind hygge goes beyond these simple tasks. Each task, as simple and cliché as it may sound, is incredibly grounding and helps open us to the present moment of joy and straight up feeling GOOD. If you’re interested more about this concept, there’s literally an entire book that I’m anxious to read written by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. I hope this was helpful in sharing my personal experience with inviting hygge into my life in hopes it’ll shine a light into your lifestyle and how you can make it happen now!

Hygge has also been getting a lot of buzz around the internet lately! Check out these articles for more perspective on this Danish concept:

They Year of Hygge, The Danish Obsession with Getting Cozy from The New Yorker

Move Over Marie Kondo: Make Room for the Hygge Hordes from The NY Times

Coziness is Trending for 2017 from my friends at Man Repeller


Do you hygge?

So, I’m curious. What things do you do already that would constitute as hygge? In what additional ways can you incorporate this amazing Danish concept into your lifestyle? Let’s get the convo started amongst the NS community and share it – I know I’m always game for learning more ways to relax and relish the moment!

xx McKel

p.s. Just for fun, check out these hashtags that explore the concept of hygge and add your own!


(3) pronunciations: and

Share your thoughts

  • Shyla

    I love taking a moment each time I’m outside to pay respect to and appreciate the great gifts nature has to offer. It’s always so grounding to realize there’s something bigger than me out there!

  • Cassandra

    Which book are you reading? The link takes you to “Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness” by Marie Tourell Søderberg but in the post you reference Meik Wiking, which wrote “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living”. I appreciate you clarifying! Thank you 🙂

    • Updated the link, sorry about that Cassandra! It’s the book by Meik!

      • Samantha

        Link is still going to Marie Tourell Søderberg

  • MCKEL! Thank you SO much for posting about hygge! I have been obsessed with the concept of hygge for a few years now ever since I read about it in an article during a particarly harsh winter here on the East Coast. I introduced hygge to my best friend and we have strived to make it part of our lifestyle ever since. I am so happy you are introducing more people to this wonderful Danish concept!

  • Great to remind people to nourish and take care of themselves – it’s not all about restriction!

  • Denise Jones (

    Great post! Hygge is a wonderful concept, indeed. I’m an American, currently living in Denmark. It’s been my experience while living here that the Danes definitely make the “little things” a priority on a daily basis – whether it’s lighting candles (lighting them often….not just for a weekend dinner) or enjoying a coffee at a cafe, mindfully in the company of friends. After being here for a year, we even light a candle in the morning while we sip on a small cup of coffee! It’s a good thing to slow down and enjoy life. I find that it’s often the “little things” that bring us comfort and joy – like the light of a candle or warm cup of tea, or the smiles with friends and loved ones.

    • Thanks so much for sharing this Denise! It’s an amazing concept for us worldwide and happy the Danish community shines the light on this way of living. 🙂

  • Samantha

    We should do a book club for that book!

    • I’ve been thinking about an NS book club! Just not quite sure how it would work! I’m open to ideas!

      • Samantha

        We could have milestone dates to finish a certain amount of chapters by and post discussions on a fb page on each date. I know Lauren Conrad has frequent book clubs with live discussions, I haven’t tried it yet.

    • Julie

      I would love to be a part of a NS book club!!! Just read about HYGGE, O do I need that in my life!!!

      • Julie are you signed up for the newsletter? You’ll get so many goodies including monthly book recs 😉


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