Oct. 12. 2016
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Discover this simple step to well-being.

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, an 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.

What Hygge Looks Like #IRL: 

  • 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 on the internet lately! Check out these articles for more perspective on this Danish concept:

The 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!


(1): http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34345791
(2): http://worldhappiness.report/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/04/WHR15.pdf
(3) pronunciations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSXiH_0HgwI and http://hyggehouse.com/hygge