Recently in the New Yorker, something caught our attention: It was hygge. Beyond just a fun word to say (it’s pronounced ‘hoo-gah’…just try saying that three times without smiling), the term embodies the type of feeling we get whenever referring to our warm & cozy little cabin on wheels. Especially in this particularly cold and snowy winter as we’ve experienced it across the western US, we have found our truck to be a perfect place to celebrate simple pleasures and identify with the Danish way of life known as hygge. It’s having coffee in bed while deciding the day’s adventures, wearing down booties around the truck, entertaining newfound friends, staying warm under our sheepskin rugs while watching movies with hot chocolate. It’s enjoying campfires with marshmallows, watching snow fall by candlelight from our “bedroom” window, and welcoming the warm respite of our heated cabin after time on the trails… This is hygge.
Born of the same type of worldwide phenomenon as feng shui, hygge is a “Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Pronounced “hoo-guh,” the word is said to have no direct translation in English, though “cozy” comes close. It derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console,” which is related to the English word “hug.” Associated with relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude, hygge has long been considered a part of the Danish national character.” (New Yorker, 12.2016)
HYGGE AND HAPPINESS
Danes may be considered to be the happiest people in the world and their concept of hygge may help explain that. Interestingly, linguistic terms like this one support our unique cultural perspectives, and this concept has no direct translation in the English language. Why is that? We’ve considered the possibilities, and hypothesized that American culture focuses on achieving comfort and happiness through possessions — both in increasing the quantity and quality of those things we surround ourselves with. Distinctively, the Danes appear to achieve that by focusing on the psychological, not necessarily just the material part of the equation. While part of creating coziness is about material things, embracing an atmosphere that promotes well-being, comfort and social connection seems to distinguish this Danish approach from coziness alone — and, as a result, bolsters happiness in a way that little else can.
OUR OWN LITTLE HYGGEKROG
The truck does that for us – it’s our own little hyggekrog of cozy, something that goes beyond a simple adjective to actually producing a warmth and contentment that transcends the space itself. It’s a philosophy, a way of life, a state of being fueled by appreciating special moments and embracing the things that make us feel warm and cozy. Moreover, it’s about sharing that state with others — creating coziness, well-being and warmth between family and friends.
HOW CAN YOU DO THE SAME?
- Tune out every now & again. Living in a truck, we’re fortunate that sometimes our destinations force us to take a break from technology.
- Create hygginess with a cozy morning routine. When we first started dating, Martin started a ritual of bringing coffee to me in bed, insisting that this was his duty and his first act of love for me each day. It’s a routine that stuck, and it’s one of our favorite things about waking up in the truck. Each morning we move the pillows, sip our espresso, read the news and plan our day.
- Candles oughtta do it. Soften your lighting to create the ambiance for relishing in the simple comfort of home.
- Love your PJs. It seems silly, but each night we relish in donning our favorite PJs. Loving what you sleep in is the ultimate in cozy.
- Bundle up. Bring out the blankets, pillows, puffy jackets, whatever soft, cuddly things make you happy. Sometimes we take our sheepskin rugs outside for hot chocolate and to listen to an audio book.
- Bring on the comfort food. Ours is mac & cheese, hot chocolate and tacos. Where there’s warm food, there’s hygge.
- Share your hyggekrog (cozy space) with others. Pay your happiness forward and amplify it by sharing your space with others. (Besides, having people over is a good reason to keep everything clean & tidy…also good for happy, cozy juju).
Sure, it’s a 2016 buzzword and critics may pass this one off as passe. But we figure anything that taps into what the happiest people on Earth are doing to achieve that level of contentment is worth examination and imitation. Besides, we can’t deny that creating a cozy space & way of life from a truck is one simple pleasure worth celebrating. Bring on the down slippers :).
It’s easy to be more hyggelig. Continue reading with some of the articles below:
The Year of Hygge, the Danish Obsession with Getting Cozy (New Yorker)
Move Over, Marie Kondo: Make Room for the Hygge Hordes (New York Times)
How To Get Through A Miserable Winter With the Danish (Life Hacker)
Hygge: The Danish Secret to Surviving Winter (CBC)
Bethany and Martin are documenting their travels and focus on minimalist living on their site twoifoverland.com. Check it out!