When you hear Denmark, what immediately comes to mind? For me, it’s the word hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). This concept loosely translates to ‘creating coziness’ in your life has caught the wellness realm’s attention in 2016 when Denmark was named the world’s happiest country for the third time. The Danes attributes one of their happiness factor to the hygge lifestyle they embody in their daily lives.

With a love to cozy up in the winter, I headed to Copenhagen to see first-hand what hygge is all about and to get an über-hyggelig experience.

What I’ve learned, hygge isn’t just creating an aesthetic environment that feels cozy, it is a feeling that exudes contentment.

Kopenhaven

 

Upon arriving in Copenhagen, you could sense calmness in the air. People were relaxed and smiling.  On the metro, before a girl sat down across from me, she flashed a smile and continued to smile all the way to her stop.

At the Torvehallerne market, just down the street from Norreport Metro station is a culinary hot spot. Here you’ll find a vast selection of foods and goods to try under one roof that will no doubt satiate your appetite and taste buds with good local company. This is where I got down to my hygge investigation.

 Torvehallerne marke

 

As I was enjoying my tapas, I ordered a glass of red from Denmark. The man behind the counter looked at me funny and said, “it would be irresponsible for me to pour you a glass of red from Denmark.” The lady who was next to me agreed, “trust me he is right. It is not very good. Our weather is not conditioned to make fine wine. I’d stick to the wines from France.”

From there, we stroked up a conversation and I told her I was on the hunt for the best places to hygge while in Copenhagen.

Well, the best would be a homemade experience at a Dane’s house. You get to enjoy a tasty home cooked Danish meal, indulge in sweet treats over great conversation with all the cozy elements. Why don’t you and your friend come over Tuesday night for dinner,” she asked with a smile. Sadly, we couldn’t take up her offer.

She then introduced us to the people she was with. It turned out they had just met as well. As she introduced us, she leaned in and said, “the concept of hygge is not just about coziness, it’s about being in the moment with the people you are with and enjoying the social interaction you are having.”

copenhagen

 

Another Dane we met later on in the night said something similar. He said, “what we are doing now – having an open-hearted, engaged conversation sharing about our cultures, enjoying each other’s company over a craft beer is hyggelig. It’s appreciating these simple moments and things in life. Doing things that make you feel good. This is the essence of hygge.”

As we continued to explore Copenhagen, interact with the locals, and watching them socialize with one another over hot drinks and comfort food, it became apparent the art of hygge is not rocket science. Surprisingly, it’s simple. Simpler than I expected.

It is about slowing down. Enjoying the company you are with, in an environment that oozes relaxation – be it at home, or a cozy café with soft lighting in Kødbyens neighborhood, or out in nature relaxing in a wooden barrel hot tub at Copenhut with your friends.

The idea is to be socially present, connecting with those around you and not constantly be on your phone. It is using your time to indulge, doing the things you enjoy that are fun, and being with people that fuel you not drain you.

Perhaps, this is why people say there is beauty in simplicity. And the practice of hygge is certainly that, especially when it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. This feeling transcends to your interactions with others.

As my carry-on was sorted to the side for further inspection at the Kastrup airport, in which I hastily said ‘sorry.’ The officer looked at me with a smile and said, “Miss don’t be sorry. There’s no need. Be happy. Carry on.’