At some point during the first year of marriage to The Dane, he introduced me to a new word – Hygge (pronounced hue-gah or hoo-ga). As I remember it, friends had introduced us to the concept of Feng shui, which happened to be at about the same time that I was reading Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore.
That’s a lot of information that I just jammed into that paragraph which bears some explaining. I’ll start with Care of the Soul.
I’d already read a few books by Moore when I stumbled across Care of the Soul. In the past, I’d found that reading Moore’s books helped me get to a place of thoughtful reflection, not just about my life, but about life in general. For me, reading his books give me a much-needed time-out to consider why I’m doing the things that I’m doing, what’s important and what isn’t, and finally, it gives me a sort of compass to guide me into a way of organizing my life goals. Sounds like a lot to put on the shoulders of one author, but there you go.
So, it was in this thoughtful moment of time in my life when The Dane and I happened to be at a dinner party. During the party, the host told us that he and his wife had recently Feng Shui’d their house. He pointed out to us the many changes that they had made and discussed how he felt that it had added a level of peace and harmony to their lives.
I must admit, I didn’t have images of running home to Feng Shui our house. Instead, I just sat and listened to our host talk about the many changes that had happened for he and his wife because of the thoughtful changes they’d made. A few of our friends sort of poo-poo’d the whole idea and secretly made fun of our host. While I understood that they thought that perhaps this was some fad that would quickly pass sort of like the Danish Modern period that this couple had previously gone through, I openly applauded them for harmonizing with their environment. I don’t mean that in some hokey sixties hippy kind of way (though I don’t find anything particular weird about that either). Rather, I mean it in a more ethereal way. I sincerely believe that we care for our soul better when we include those elements that are missing like making more green spaces in our concrete jungles.
Later on, The Dane bought a book about Feng shui. After he finished, we ended up talking about Caring for the Soul with Feng shui. Then The Dane said something like, “It’s a lot like adding hue-gah to your life.” I had one of those double-take moments where I tried to figure out if I misunderstood the word he was saying or if it was a different language. I’ve come to realize that when people have multiple ethnic backgrounds they tend to introduce what to them is an everyday word without realizing it. Sometimes The Dane will say something that to him is quite common to refer to in German because that’s the way it was taught to him from his German grandparents without realizing that it’s not common everyday English that I understand. I’m sure that works both ways as there are times when I see a strange expression on his face when I’ve used a very common Southern expression.
I tried to repeat the word to him in way of a question. Turns out, it wasn’t an easy thing to just tell me what the word meant as it’s more of a word that conveys a concept. The concept of hygge is to take common everyday moments and make them special in some way. But then its way more than that. It’s about taking those moments and taking pleasure in the regular ordinariness of it. It’s often referred to as the “art of creating intimacy.”
After some conversation about the word, I realized that this wasn’t part of his German heritage. It came from the Danish side of his family. And our discussion ended up being more about how it felt for him rather than about what it was.
Though the years, The Dane has helped me learn to create hygge in my life and it truly does make the world a better, brighter place to live. I’ve learned that it’s really mostly about being present in your life. Instead of going on auto-pilot, you simply learn to experience life as it comes to you and to find pleasure in the smallest of things like the warmth of a cozy pair of slippers, the feeling of a fuzzy hat nestled around your ears, or the soft caress of fingers as they brush a stray hair back from your face. It’s making tea in a special china cup with a pretty floral design that makes you shiver as the first sip of warmth enters your mouth. It’s the soft glow of a candle over dinner when the lights go out from the snowstorm. It’s wearing a pair of warm wooly socks with a plaid blanket spread over your lap as you sit by the fireplace and laugh about forgetting to get the milk and bread.
Since learning the concept, I look for hygge everywhere. And I find it there.
Here’s to finding and appreciating all the special hygge moments to come.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog today.