Did you know the people of Denmark are the happiest in the world? Did you also know that their level of happiness spikes during the cold winter months? You may think that is impossible because winter is a miserable, dark time, but the Danes have mastered winter and not because they all enjoy skiing.
The secret to Danish happiness is something called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge refers to “a quality of comfort, coziness, and conviviality.” The basic principle of hygge is to embrace all the tiny moment’s life has to offer, not just the grand ones.
Hygge is comprised of words, actions, atmospheres, experiences, and sensations, all wrapped up into one.
To create or experience hygge, Danes light as many candles as possible to combat the dark and dreary winter. Hygge is about slowing down life, beingcozy, relaxing, and enjoying every moment with friends and family.
You probably have already experienced hygge at some point and didn’t even realize it. Ever sat in front of a fire with a good book? That’s hygge. Enjoyed a long conversation with friends around a table? That’s hygge, too.
But why should you partake in hygge? Well, not only does hygge promote happiness, but it can help your overall well-being, too. How exactly? When you live in the moment, when you’re happy, and when you’re cozy and having quality time, then you are reducing stress, which is a major contributor to poor health.
Our busy lives take a toll on us, whether we recognize it or not. When we are stressed, cortisol is released. Some levels of stress are okay, but chronic stress can start to cause damage to our bodies over time. For example, stress has been shown to negatively impact a person’s heart and digestion.
Additionally, stressed out people tend to appear older than less stressed people. So, instead of investing in costly creams and masks, just reduce your stress instead to appear younger.
Stress has also been shown to worsen pre-existing underlying medical conditions, which means you can become sicker rather than healthier. Therefore, slowing life down may be a near cure-all for illness and aging.
This winter, you may want to take a page out of the Danish people’s book and practice hygge as a means to refresh yourself, get through the dark days of winter, and improve your health.