hygge: 11 danish secrets to happiness


With all this talk about organizing, decluttering, and being mindful, Hygge pops up all over the place. Hygge is the Danish way of decluttering and organizing – with the bonus of being cozy. It fits in with mindfulness, being comfortable (inside of yourself and outside of yourself), and appreciating the world around you. Be in the moment. Be grateful.

Hygge, pronounced “Hoo-Ga,” comes from the Norwegian word “well-being.”

Some Words associated with Hygge are:

Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Institute of Copenhagen as well as the author of the book The Little Book of Hygge. She is a wealth of information on Hygge. Her writing has gems scattered throughout. She says, “Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.” She called Hygge “Coziness of the soul.”

Author Dr. Mike Ruscio interviewed Wiking about Hygge. You can read the interview transcribed here: and you can listen to the podcast/radio interview here.

Wiking said “And I work at the Happiness Research Institute, where we essentially try to answer three basic questions. One, how do we measure happiness? Secondly, why are some people happier than others? And ultimately, we hope to answer the question, how do we improve the quality of life?”

Wiking talked of how Americans see freedom perhaps the way Danes see Hygge. The way we (people in the United States) view freedom is inherent (or should be). Danes have an innate sense of being kind to themselves and those around them. They try to make the most of their daily lives.

As my friend Laura once told me about life, “This is not a dress rehearsal.”

You can check out the World Happiness Report. It’s an ACTUAL THING, and it’s fantastic!
Click Here for the World Happiness Report.

Danes have the happiest workforce in the world, and most of them receive 52 weeks parental leave (and five weeks vacation.) They mostly work from 9-4, and they never stay at work late – always going home to their families.

2. Danes burn more candles than anywhere else in Europe. (So buy some!)

3. When everyone cooks together, that’s more Hygge than when one person cooks and everyone meets at the table. Bake and cook! Danes make delicious pastries and love to cook slow – stews and soups.

4. Every Hygge home should have a cozy nook – to read, drink tea or coffee – what kind of table you are touching, or plate you are eating out of matters. When you get home from work, try an herbal tea, a book, soft blanket, comfy couch or chair. (As opposed to dinner on the couch watching Dexter on Netflix.)

5. Danes bike everywhere: There are more bikes than people in Copenhagen. Bikes create less car pollution, more exercise, and less money spent on cars, gas, and auto maintenance.

6. They eat lunch at 11 am.

7. Danes eat oatmeal (porridge) for dinner as well as for breakfast.

8. People in Denmark dress for the weather. They layer up. Layers keep them warm, and as we know, this feels better than being out in stockings and inappropriate shoes.

9. Make a craft with friends or alone. Example: knitting. Knitting is COMPLETELY cozy and relaxing. I agree! https://mindfullyknitting.com

10. Light the fire. Have a wood burning stove.

11. Turn off electronic devices every once in a while.

All these things seem to create a life of balance and harmony.
Hygge means building trust, embracing imperfection. (Wait. Is imperfection ok? What?)

Materialism came up in my research. It seems that Danes understand that once you cover your baseline expenses, being connected to other people is what creates happiness, not more money. In the United States, Income is generally associated with happiness. The happiness report shows that “happiness” in the United States has been dropping.

Alfred Marshall, the author that wrote the Principles of Economics book in 1890, discussed the concepts of Diminishing Marginal Utility. He wrote, “The additional benefit a person derives from a given increase of his stock of a thing diminishes with every increase in the stock that he already has.”

I thought it was so interesting that Denmark has some of the highest taxes in the world. They believe the higher taxes create a better society (which is a post for another day – however they do have a stable government, low level of corruption, and access to high-quality education and health care.

Healthcare. Healthcare. Health. Care.

In the interview between Wiking and Dr. Rosio, Wiking said, “And in terms of having a single-pay system, in terms of healthcare, that universal healthcare should be provided for all. It should not be something that is down to the individual to choose insurance, and so on. We definitely see a trend there, that if you have universal healthcare, of course, it reduces worries, of course, it reduces stress, and of course, that improves quality of life for all.”

Nordic countries tend to cultivate a decent work-life balance.

Mindfulness and Hygge are similar. Although one is looking inward (mindfulness) and one is somewhat outward (hygge), the ideas and feelings are alike.

Celebrate experiences over possessions.

My most favorite takeaway from hygge?

Gratitude. Have some. Be thankful. Feel it. Mean it.


This post may contain affiliate links. You can read more on the disclaimer page. Please know I will never promote or suggest any product that I haven’t used and/or continue to use, and that I enjoy using in my own life.


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