I was reminded of the funny Danish word “hygge” in a recent Freakanomics podcast titled “How To Be Happy.” A friend who knows me all too well shared the episode, and of course, I loved it.
The episode was centered around the merits of judging national wealth not by GDP, but by a metric more qualitative, i.e. national well-being or happiness. With Denmark and other Nordic countries consistently ranking at the top of the U.N.’s World Happiness Report, Freakanomics did a deep dive on what makes Danish folks so happy. What they found -- was hygge.
In thinking more about this concept, I realized I already practiced my own form of hygge, without even thinking about it. I do it in the only personal space that is 100% mine -- my bedroom. So I thought it might be interesting and helpful if I shared how I create a space of utter coziness and joy in my everyday life. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to do the same.
(PS. You can either read this whole post or just peep the below video, which rounds up all the key points in a more visual format! Gotta look out for my audio-visual learners. Comment if you’re a fan!)
What is a “hygge bedroom?”
That question starts with “what is hygge?” And more importantly, how the heck do you pronounce it?
According to Visit Denmark, “in essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” Here are sore of the hygge-approved things they listed as examples:
The warm glow of candlelight
Cosying up with a loved one for a movie
Sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life
And it’s pronounced “hoo-gah.” You can kind of pick up how it’s pronounced in this really nice video overview of creating a hygge bedroom:
So a hygge bedroom is basically just the coziest possible space that you can make for yourself to come home to every day and filling it with the people that make you happiest.
How I create a hygge bedroom most nights
Most days, I get home around 7 pm. I make some dinner, maybe shower, and then I get to work setting the mood for my evening. This is me almost every single weeknight (& some weekends!), because settling into a beautiful and cozy space on a daily basis is something I believe is good for the soul and spirit.
Here’s my standard go-to hygge package, generally done in this order:
Put on a Spotify “Focus” playlist, like the Mellow Beats or Peaceful Guitar playlists
Turn on my lamp & string lights (pictured above)
Light one of the 3-4 candles in my room, usually obtained at local craft fairs
Clean my room to orderly minimalism
Make a sort of pillow chair on my bed that I can nestle into
Brew a cup of decaffeinated mint green tea or pour some Synergy kombucha into a wine glass (to feel a bit more luxurious)
Grab a piece of dark chocolate to nibble on
Splay out on the bed all of the things that I love to do at night, including:
All the books I’m reading at the moment
My journal & a pen
My laptop for blog writing
Fun fact: According to Freakanomics, the Danish burn 2x the amount of candles as the second largest candle consumer in EMEA, Austria!
How to take the hygge bedroom up a notch
It’s Friday night & you want hygge to be the main event. This has been my new thing. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to drink less and less. Mostly trying to figure out how to break the cycle of habitual drinking that I so closely associate with weekends and social gatherings.
Making hygge the main event of my Friday night (when I’m most tired from the week) has been an excellent alternative to a loud & crowded bar. Here’s how to do it in a way that feels slightly more indulgent than your weeknight setup:
Pick up some beautiful flowers for your bedroom on the way home
Change into cute comfies, usually layers of grey for me. Think:
Trade your tea in for a glass of red wine
Light TWO or even THREE (ohh, we gettin’ crazy) candles
Invite someone over to share the experience with you. Don’t forget to talk about life, the big and small things :)
A potential challenge to a hygge bedroom
The one challenge I run into with creating a hygge bedroom is that I still don’t seem to be able to detach from my phone. I’ve considered turning off all notifications from 9-11 pm so that I’m less inclined to be pulled in, but then again, this is some of the only time I have to catch up with my boyfriend who lives an hour away.
Hygge is about relationships just as much as it is spaces, so perhaps it’s appropriate that he’s there with me virtually. Unclear, but something that I think about. Technology, that is, and how it plays into our happiness. A post coming on that later.
A hygge bedroom brings back happy memories
I have a special affinity for words that are said to be “untranslatable” in the English language. When I studied abroad in Amsterdam, one of the first things you learn about Dutch culture is the word “Gezellig.” The concept is very similar to hygge, roughly translating back to describe anything that is cozy or friendly or “quite nice” as many’a Dutch would say.
I got to experience this beautiful sense of warmth during my time in the Netherlands, and ever since, it’s been something I've longed for people to prioritize in the States. What with only having control over myself, I’ve tried to make sure the one space that is mine completely -- my bedroom -- fully encapsulates my desire for the world to be a more hygge & gezellig place.
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