What is Hygge, and why is it important?

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish concept that is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable.” Just reading those words makes me feel comfortable. If you Google hygge, you will find all types of descriptions ranging from drinking hot cocoa to designing a house. The Norwegian word for the same concept is Koselig (pronounced koosh-lee). Since I (Sue) am mostly Norwegian, I will go with this word.  There are also words for it in other Scandinavian countries; however, there doesn’t seem to be a translation in English. I find that very interesting. What is the difference in our ways of living?

The Danes, Norwegian, etc. spend much of the year in cold weather. This tends to bring them inside and craving cozy things like comfy couches or chairs, warm beverages (maybe Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory was Scandinavian), a blanket, good books to read, a warm, delicious meal, comfy clothes, and a calm décor with muted colors. It also includes spending quality time with friends and family. In other words, it is a concept of the good life.

STM is all about living the good life in any way you can. Even though we don’t really have a complete concept of a comfy life in America, we seem to know what makes us feel comfy. I asked my friends on Facebook what they think of when they think of being comfy. My friend, Marcia, said “warmth and a cozy blanket.” My cousins Joan and MaryAnn both said a fireplace. Joan included nature-inspired decorations, and MaryAnn mentioned a recliner and a good book. My cousin, Jean, summed it all up with the word “Home.” Home is what we talk about at STM. What makes a “good” home and what makes a “good” life. Of course, the adjective “good” is subjective. What one person considers good may not translate to someone else. However, thinking about what makes you feel comfortable and calm can really help with mental and physical health.


When we started moving toward this lifestyle in the late 1990’s, we used the writings of Scott and Helen Nearing to guide us toward the way we wanted to live. We were younger and more hopeful then. We thought we could take what someone else said was the good life and apply it directly to us. The problem was that Scott and Helen lived in New England and wrote about their lifestyle in the early part of the 20th century. We were quickly looking at the beginning of the 21st century in central Ohio and trying to do exactly what they did. It probably could be done, and I’m sure others have lived closer to their philosophies than we did. However, we found that there were some things that just didn’t fit the way we lived. It took us awhile to realize that it’s okay to adjust philosophies so that they make sense in your own life. That is where the sustainable part of our message comes in. Do what you can do where you are and don’t feel guilty about not living how someone else does. 

In the coming months, I will be exploring ways to live a comfy and good life in the 21st century. I will use research from the Nearings and others who have gone before us. I will also ask others on my social media sites for their thoughts on this topic.

If you have a thought that you would like to share, please comment on this post and share it with others. I would like to hear from people either living the good life or wanting to.

See you in the next post!


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