Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Feb 9, 2014

As fans of travel, we feel we can learn a great deal by studying other cultures. Here is a case in point. Denmark endures dreary winters with the help of a cheery cultural concept known as “hygge.”

Alaris Properties

It’s not an easy word for outsiders to pronounce – it sounds sort of like HYU-gah – and it’s even harder to translate. Hygge has no direct analogue in English, and related words like “coziness” “togetherness” and “well-being” only cover a fraction of its nebulous definition. Still, in hopes of shedding light on Denmark’s world-class happiness, here’s a closer look at the hazy nature of hygge.

Hygge is a pervasive, year-round spirit. Denmark is claimed to be one of the world’s happiest countries because it – despite dark winter days with only six hours of sunlight. Not only did their country rank No. 1 in last year’s U.N. World Happiness Report, but it has topped the European Commission’s well-being and happiness index for 40 years in a row.

Hygge refers to a sense of friendly, warm companionship of a kind fostered when Danes gather together in groups of two or more, although you can actually hygge yourself if there is no one else around. It’s a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary everyday things simply extraordinary. It’s an outlook that sees domestic and personal life as an art form.

Think about 2014 as a year of incorporating hygge into your daily life through gratitude, and you’ll be amazed at the results. We also invite you to check out and post on our Gratitude Corner, where we talk about how gratitude is key to greater joy and happiness in your life (and how you can use this incredible concept to help you decide where you want to live).

We would love to see your photos and hear about what gives you joy, like where you live and what you do.

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