I don’t remember when I came to this realization, but it occurred to me one day a few years ago that there are some words in the English vocabulary that I love and some that I really cannot stand.
For example, the word moist. I can honestly tell you that even typing that sent a chill down my spine and something that sounded like “uchhhhhhh” just came out of my mouth. It’s gross and I detest it. I was of the firm opinion that the word could just be erased from the dictionary forever, until someone pointed out to me that there’s no other good way to compliment a really great cake.
Fine. You got me. Believe me, I’ve tried to come up with better solutions to that issue but came up with nothing. Anyway, moving on.
I also really just love the word cozy. Because I think it sounds like the feeling it describes. The word cozy just sounds cozy, ya know? Google its definition and it’s just as lovely as the word itself: “Giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.” Um yes hi hello, that just makes my heart and soul soar and I am 100% here for it.
Imagine my surprise and delight when a couple of years ago, I was introduced to the Nordic philosophy of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah), which is basically everything cozy lived out to the Nth degree.
Hygge can be described as “a feeling of cosiness… [H]ygge can also mean kinship and conviviality. It’s about being sociable and looking outward, about taking pleasure in the simple things in life, in fellowship with kith and kin,” reads one of my new favorite books, How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life.
In the Nordic culture, this means that they make the most of their super long and dark winters (much like the ones in the great land of Minnesota where I find myself living these days) by embracing it as an opportunity: to light candles, to wear that warm sweater, to enjoy fresh baked bread with mounds of butter, to share that bread in a meal with friends you invited over, to go for a walk on snowy paths through the woods (or a city sidewalk), to sip a cup of tea at night while winding down from the day.
Something I’m realizing about myself is that it’s very easy for me to base my goodness off of being a do-er rather than a be-er. What do I mean by that? Basically, I tend to think that I’m only doing a good job at being a good and decent human being if I accomplish all 18 things on my to-do list; if I have a good and productive day at work; if I manage to keep my life in pristine order at all times. When in reality, my inherent goodness does not ever change. Ever. Period. It stays with me. I am still Daughter if I accomplish all 18 things or if I end up not being able to finish any of them. I am still Daughter if there are dishes in the sink at the end of the day. I am still Daughter if all I did was go to work, come home, put on sweatpants, and go to bed. I am still Daughter if my heart is achy for really no good reason and I’m feeling a little bit lonely.
What does this have to do with hygge? Hygge is an invitation to stop being a do-er all the time and to simply be. It’s an invitation for me to slow down and recognize that the Father has given me so much, even in the midst of mundane everyday life. There is a gift waiting for me to delight in, even if it’s just for a second. It’s a reminder that good can indeed come out of the darkness…like the legitimate darkness of a Minnesota winter where it’s pitch black when I leave the office at 5, which would be really easy for me to complain about.
I can get so caught up in the “Am I doing all the right things Jesus?” that I don’t just stop and let Him love me and see His glory in the beauty of everyday living. I don’t stop and rest, and really rest. I don’t stop and recreate and really recreate.
My encouragement? Put your phone down, put your lists away, leave the dishes for a second. Light that candle that smells like pine and cinnamon and makes your apartment smell so cozy and homey. Wear that big ol’ chunky sweater and wool socks and wrap yourself in a blanket. Make that bread and slather on the butter (all things in moderation people!). Invite your friends over to share a meal, to have conversation, to play a game, and do it all without a phone. Go for a walk in the snow and take delight in the crunch of that fluffy white stuff under your feet. Make a cup of tea at the end of the day and curl up on the couch with a book or have a conversation with your roommate.
Here’s to delighting in all the simple and little things the Father has to give. Here’s to embracing the here and now that the Father has chosen us to be in. Here’s to being a be-er. Here’s to our Nordic pals who are helping change my heart one candle-lit moment at a time. Here’s to Hygge.