Hygge was voted one of the top ten words of 2016 by the Collins English Dictionary. Hygge (pronounced HUE-gah) is the Danish word for cozy. Think hot chocolate, warm fireplaces, and fuzzy slippers. Really it’s a bigger concept than simply cozy, it’s more of a way of being, an approach to life. Hygge is the new-to-the-U.S. lifestyle craze that is helping those of us in northern climes get through and even begin to enjoy the long dark night of winter.
Hygge is all about hanging out at home with friends, wearing bulky knit sweaters, nibbling comfort foods while cuddling, and playing board games in a cozy nook while a storm rages outside. Apparently, scary police dramas on Netflix also increase our hygge.
We absolutely love the idea of cozying up but can’t help but feel that there is something missing from all this comfort and well-being. As much as we love things like hot-spiced wine, candlelight, Snuggies, and eating in, we miss the flowers in this hygge picture. Where are the healing effects of nature?
Eco-therapy has been proven to boost the immune system, lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure and stress, and improve well-being. The healing effects of nature are well documented throughout the world. The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, was even adopted into its national health program. Mix shinrin-yoku with hygge and you’ll get meta-well-being and cultural nirvana!
We suggest that flowers are the portable version of shinrin-yoku. Hygge needs flowers. Years ago, the psychology department at Rutgers conducted a study on the emotional impact of flowers. (Here is an excerpt from the abstract of that study: “For more than 5000 years, people have cultivated flowers although there is no known reward for this costly behavior…We suggest that cultivated flowers are rewarding because they have evolved to rapidly induce positive emotion in humans…”*) Flowers fight depression, improve emotional health and should be a part of hygge. Add flowers to hygge and you just might out-hygge the Danes!
“The Little Book of Hygge,” written by Meik Wiking, the founder and chief executive of the Happiness Institute, a Copenhagen-based think tank studying and comparing societal happiness, is due out early this year. Further study is indicated.