The Hygge EffectJoanna Callender - 5 Nov 2015
All of a sudden, the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ has been appearing all over social media websites in the form of articles, hashtags and images of cosy, warm fires.
Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) doesn’t have a literal english translation, but it’s a concept that encourages enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life. Hygge is the intention to find contentment and peace in regular activities. So, hygge could be hanging out with friends on a cold, dark evening, gathering with family for a meal, or simply lighting a candle in your bedroom and embracing its warmth.
The attitude of hygge evokes a positivity to the everyday mundanities of life. So rather than feeling sad that it’s becoming colder, darker and wetter, it offers an opportunity to find the (literal) light in the darkness. In a world that increasingly complains and whines; hygge introduces the idea of being positive, grateful and involved in the present moment. Hygge is the active pursuit of optimism in the face of passive pessimism.
I love hygge because it doesn’t require lots of time, energy or money. It’s a change of attitude that reminds us to seek simple blessings. It’s a healthy challenge for us to embrace in our Christian communities too.
5 lessons we can learn from Hygge:
1. Time together is time well spent
Yes, going to Church together every week is a great way to catch up with friends, but time to relax together is one of the best ways to build and maintain trusting relationships. Jesus had meals with his friends all the time, and the early Church lived together closely, sharing everything they had. Share your evenings with your friends.
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts
2. The present moment matters
Often, we panic about the future or fixate on the problems of the past. One of the main attractions of hygge is its focus on the present moment, and as Christians, this is a really important perspective to have. God is interested in our lives at this moment, and the Bible reminds us not to worry or be afraid.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God
3. Resting is a priority
We’re really good at focusing on doing stuff; serving at Church, working extra hours at work or practising hospitality. All of those things are great in their own way, but every so often, prioritising rest is the best thing we can do. The Bible teaches a lot about the importance of resting, retreating and reenergising, so that we don’t burn out. So hygge focuses on the importance of being kind to yourself, as well as others.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him
4. Switch off!
Hygge doesn’t happen while we’re checking our emails, or replying to that not-so-urgent text message. Part of its beauty and power is found in the simplicity of things that don’t require a plug socket. An open fire; a warm candle; a big sofa; good conversation and friends. So challenge yourself to switch off from technology every so often, either to spend time listening to God’s voice, or investing in other people.
Be still, and know that I am God
5. Gratefulness is important.
Hygge isn’t an expensive type of living; it’s embracing and being thankful for the things that we often take for granted. This is also a really great habit to get into during prayer. Rather than coming to God with requests or fears, ending each day with thankfulness and gratefulness reminds us to see the bigger picture.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
In our increasingly digital and independent world, hygge reminds us of the importance of spending time where we are, with other people, and relishing those small blessings. The art of living in the moment is one that encourages us to see God’s goodness in our lives, and in the communities that we’re part of.