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IGNITE: YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
The little article of ‘Hygge’ VICKY RHINE IGNITE Rockford
A new perspective for the coldest days of the year
Perhaps you already feel it. Perhaps it crept up on you when you took down your holiday décor, wrapped up your finer sets of dishes and reorganized the storage containers that will wait patiently until fall sets in again. Perhaps you felt it when you finished the last candy cane or specialty chocolate you were gifted. Maybe you are starting to feel it even though you stubbornly keep up your tree until February. While the holiday season can provide some of the happiest moments of the year, it is well understood that the winter months can be a source of negative emotions. The frigid temperatures and limited social outlets alone can make us agitated, impatient and focused on what we do not have rather than what we can be grateful for in the present. But to a certain extent, we have a choice to resist or embrace what life sets in front of us. Perhaps this year we can decide to revel in the coldest season of the year, rather than dread it. This is the mindset the Danes have
long embraced; who have winters consisting of extremely limited sunlight and excessive snow. They see the season as an opportunity to find comfort and enjoyment in indoor activities, relishing in all things cozy. This lifestyle has its own name, “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”), which comes from a Norwegian term meaning “to comfort.”
Feeling at Home In his book “The Little Book of Hygge,” Meik Wiking gives a full picture of the hygge lifestyle and explains to readers how they too can adopt it in their own lives. Wiking notes that the term hygge can take on many meanings and vary from person to person. It has been described as “cozy togetherness,” “the absence of annoyance,” and, Wiking’s favorite, “cocoa by candlelight.” Hygge is often characterized by relaxed settings, often involving what Americans would describe as “quality time” with loved ones. It also parallels our modern
day “self-care” activities of journaling, meditating and reducing screen time. Among a dizzying list of options, the items that the Danes most associate with hygge include hot drinks, candles, music, books and sweets. Activities include playing board games, cooking and all things holiday-related. Wiking’s hygge manifesto emphasizes the importance of setting an atmosphere that is comfortable and welcoming for all. It also encourages individuals to be present in the moment by building dialogue through thoughtful questions or story-telling and having everyone share tasks for the evening, regardless of who is or isn’t hosting. A good “hygge-minded” host is one who makes all guests feel like they are home.
The Rise of Hygge Hygge culture’s popularity has risen sharply in recent years, but it’s important to find the right hygge style for you especially as retailers seek to capitalize on the market. Like yoga and the self-care phenomenon, the idea of hygge has been easily franchised. While hygge can involve some preparation and planning, over-priced candles, quilts and conversation-starter games do not have to define your success with it. As Wiking writes in his book, “hygge is about an atmosphere and an
experience, rather than about things.” Hygge can be as simple as a few tea light candles, soft music and a home-cooked meal. If you find yourself wanting to say “this is so cozy,” you’re likely on the right track. So, let’s change the narrative for this time of year. Let’s savor the warmth when we step through the threshold into our homes rather than shrink in dismay at the lingering chill. Let’s settle in each night with a good book and our favorite hot beverage. Let’s invite friends over for a potluck simply for conversation and a good time. Let’s take a pause to intentionally find meaning in the small things we cherish. Let’s be hygge about it. Cheers! Author’s note: as the new REACH co-chair for IGNITE, it is my responsibility to plan events that make all members feel welcome! I encourage members to contact the REACH Committee with ideas for future IGNITE Events, including IGNITE Cup. Visit www.igniterockford.com. Thank you! Vicky Rhine, MPH, also is assistant director of external and pipeline programs, National Center for Rural Health Professions, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. The views expressed are those of Rhine’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.