Thursday, August 3, 2017

guest post: keepin' it cozy ~ how to hygge like the danish

I have a delightful surprise for you today. For the first time, I'm doing a guest post. Welcome Jennifer Ullrich of A Life Designed! have known Jen since she was a baby. Our families attended church together and our parents were good friends. Jen moved to Maryland 14 years ago, but we've always kept in touch.

As an elementary school teacher, Jen was going through the motions, feeling like a hamster on a wheel, barely keeping up with her family, work and relationships. When she did have time to relax ~ she couldn't. On the outside, she had it all. On the inside, she was discontent and restless. An illness forced her to evaluate her priorities. She started to fantasize about a different kind of life: A life where she was present for the people she loved. A life with physical and mental space to think and create. A life where she decided to spend her time.

Jen learned to love the idea of less: less stuff, less busyness, less obligations. Instead, she sought more: more peace, more time, more space, more freedom. She's now an Online Education Instructor which offers flexibility in her work hours ~ and she loves what she does! Jen's here today to talk to us about 
"Keepin' it Cozy: How to Hygge like the Danish."

(Photo credit: Pedro Lopes)

The Danish word “hygge”, pronounced HOO-guh, has been getting a lot of attention.  It’s been called everything from a feeling to a lifestyle trend.  
Books and articles are popping up all over the place about hygge, so I did some investigating to see if I could find out a little more about why it’s being talked about so much.  
There’s no English word that’s equivalent to hygge, so defining it can be somewhat difficult.  Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, published a book last year titled, The Little Book of Hygge:  The Danish Way to Live Well.  He describes hygge like this: 

Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight...
Cozy?  Candles? Cocoa?  I’m in!

Here’s what I’ve discovered about hygge.  It’s about being present, enjoying the little things, and the comforting feelings of warmth and coziness.  Hygge involves doing things that bring happiness and joy, practicing self-care, and enjoying both the indoors and outdoors on your own or with family and friends.  

Hygge is often equated with cold weather activities like snuggling by a fire with a warm drink, wearing thick, insulated socks, and eating comfort foods like stews and soups.  But hygge can also include outdoor activities like a taking a long, leisurely walk, bike riding, and appreciating nature.

So, how can you incorporate a little hygge into your everyday routine?  The Hygge Manifesto is a good place to start and encapsulates the elements of hygge.  The manifesto covers three main areas:  Environment, Connection, and Attitude.

It’s not about buying new furnishings or creating the perfect room.  It’s about using what you already have in your home to relax.   
Dim the lights or use candles to create a cozy feeling.  
Use pillows, blankets, soft fabrics, and comfortable furnishings.  
Build a fire in the fireplace to add warmth. 
Use fresh flowers and plants to bring nature indoors.
Indulge in comfort foods like soups, stews, hot cocoa, coffee, tea, and home-made desserts. 
Spend time in nature.

A big part of hygge is being present in order to build connections and share time with family and friends.  This connection time is used to relax, unwind from the day, and strengthen relationships.  Ways to connect and share include:
Cooking a meal together or baking a special treat.  Time in the kitchen is a shared activity, where conversation and togetherness is experienced.  
Snuggling up on the couch with a pet. 
Listening to music or reading books. 

Having positive conversations based on shared experiences and reminiscing.  Topics that are controversial, dramatic, or disagreeable are tabled for another time.  In other words, no drama, no conflict, no political discussions.
Technology is turned off.  That means no TV and no social media.  Respect family and friends by cherishing time together and keeping activities sequestered from the outside world.  Be with the people who are in front of you instead of your Twitter followers.

Hygge embodies an attitude of gratefulness, appreciating what you have and the people in your life.  A hygge attitude involves:
Accepting the people you’re with for who they are.  No judgment, no analysis.  Just love.
A focus on quality time.  You’re not getting things done.  You’re investing in relationships.  
Your actions are unhurried and leisurely, and create a feeling of peace and security.  
Feeling safe is valued and promoted.  

Hygge in Summer
If reading about hygge has you wishing for cooler nights, or even winter (gasp!), don’t worry.  You can practice hygge any time of year.  Here are some ideas for incorporating hygge into your routine right now:
Open up curtains and blinds to let in natural light, creating a connection with the outdoors.
Have a fire outside with s’mores and conversation.
Take a long walk in the woods.
Enjoy a glass of sangria or lemonade on the deck or patio before dinner.
Open the windows to air out your indoor space.
Catch fireflies at dusk.

Create a bouquet of fresh flowers from your garden or visit a local farmer’s market for some seasonal blooms.
Take mealtimes outside.  Sit on the front porch with a cup of coffee in the morning or have leisurely backyard barbeque with friends.
Spend time near water.  A pool, sprinkler, lake, or beach can help you feel relaxed and refreshed.

No matter how you choose to hygge, remember to enjoy the moment.  It’s a great way to practice mindfulness every day.  To get more articles like this one, visit me at and sign up to get emails sent directly to your inbox.  

An empty nester whose two children are away at college, Jennifer Ullrich lives in Maryland with her husband, Randy and their Golden Retriever, Charley. Jen loves playing the piano, yoga, reading and running.

Jen's blog - A Life Designed - is about purposefully creating the kind of life that's right for you. Won't you join her as she walks this path? You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.


  1. Hello Jen! Lovely to hear from you and to read more about your thoughts on Hygge of which I am a big fan!

  2. Delightful post. She sounds like a really great person and that she has her priorities straight. Thanks so much for the post! xo Diana

  3. Lovely post. Like most things, mindfulness is a practice and I'm always grateful to hear new ideas and inspiration. Thank you, Jen!

  4. So nice to meet your friend, Jen and learn a bit more about hygge. That word seems to be everywhere lately. The concept is most appealing to me and I plan to execute Jen's idea for sangria on the patio later today. :).
    I popped over to check out Jen's blog and immediately went to the post about confessions of a seasonal décor hoarder. I half expected to see my picture there. Ha! I am going to follow along to see how she goes about tackling that issue. Every time a holiday rolls around I purge some of my collection, but I know that there is still way too much in the attic.

  5. Is like... being present in all things and thankful for all things... lovely.



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