I wasn’t aware that I actively lead a Danish lifestyle until I visited Copenhagen, and realized that the entire philosophy of happiness for the Danes is also mine. There’s even a word for it— hygge. I'll get into what it means in a second, but first let's review the pronunciation, because my roommate Juliann says it differently every time she mentions it and we never know what the fuck she's referring to. It is a mixture between “hoog-uh” and "hug-uh," so just like... put a little Germanic emphasis on it, ya know? I don't know how else to explain it. If it sounds unnatural when you say it out loud, you're probably doing it right. As for whether hygge is a noun, adjective, or verb, I really couldn’t tell you, but I’m probably going to use it as all three in this post.
The closest English translation to the word is “coziness.” Hygge, and all that it encompasses, is the practice of doing what makes you feel happy. It’s getting off work by 4pm so you can spend time with your family and focus on your hobbies, because Denmark’s priorities are goddamn ingenious. It’s indulging in your creature comforts, like lighting your favorite candle and swaddling yourself in a plush blanket when you watch a movie. It’s pursuing the good things in life, and that warm, fuzzy feeling, in any way you please. Hi, hello, that’s how I live my entire life. Here in Europe, my most hygge moments have been on my runs across the bridge nearest my apartment, and seeing the glinting street lights, the Prague castle, the Charles Bridge, and the leaves falling into the river, all from one panoramic vantage point. I also peaked while floating in the Mediterranean when I went to Nice. I think traveling abroad in general is Hygge-City.
To further quantify this lifestyle, here are some daily examples:
This summer, in a 24 hour diner off of South Figueroa near USC, (a short walk from the frat house), Steven and I discussed our natural inclination to the hygge lifestyle over croissant sammies and possibly an entire pot of coffee. Again, we didn’t know there was a word for it at the time, but all the central themes were already there for us. We questioned how much of the lifestyle we’ll be able to retain when we’re both employed with full time jobs. Of course, he and I are both lucky enough to truly enjoy our career paths, but we also are adamant about finding time for our hobbies outside of work, and enjoying life's simple pleasures.
We outlined the parameters which we think are necessary and reasonable for us to withhold in life: Ample time spent with our families— an obvious check for the future. Regarding the present, we both like to create personal projects, whether it’s developing a new app or working on a screenplay (guess who’s who), and that’s a huge part of our daily inspirations for which we set time aside. We’d like to be able to meet up with friends for dinner or drinks every so often during the week, schedule permitting. Obviously, we’ll need some time to submit to our inherent need to binge a few episodes of whatever we’re watching on Netflix. And what about the next time we’re craving a diner breakfast in south central LA? Well, we just found ourselves wishing that the full-time working lifestyle, which he was on the cusp of entering and which I’m headed for soon, allowed more time for all those things. Denmark— 1; U.S.— 0.
Steven and I have led the hygge lifestyle for as long as I can remember. In high school, we used to take “creative breaks” after twenty minutes of homework at a time, which would consist of us running outside to play badminton, or exchanging YouTube videos, or swan diving onto the couch to recharge. During past visits to each other in the Bay Area or Orange County, we have twice abandoned plans to hit the bars, and watched Harry Potter instead. And we were so excited about that decision both times. We've hiked the highest hill in Berkeley to enjoy the view, and traipsed the streets to find the best meals. We’re aware that we can’t expect to fit all our favorite hygges into each day as life gets busier and more complicated, but maybe with practice and extreme time management (which I hear is a new X Games sport), we can figure it out as we go. We’re optimistic.