If there was one happiness trend that dominated 2016, it was minimalism. By clearing out unnecessary stuff, the idea is that by simplifying your life and reducing your number of possessions, you open up space for meaningful experiences and happiness.
No one preached this message more than Marie Kondo. The pro Japanese organizer hit it big with her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She encourages clients to discard or donate items that do not bring them joy. This leaves rooms only for the essential in your home.
But the Internet may have hit peak minimalism. Every article that can be written on the topic seems like it has been. It's a new year. We're ready to hop on a new happiness bandwagon to kick off 2017.
Never fear, hygge is here.
Hygge is the Danish word that roughly translates to "cozy." When winter hits and Danes cozy up in their homes, they hygge it up hard. Pronounced hoo-gah, the concept entails creating a warm and welcoming environment to promote well-being in your home.
Here's how the New Yorker explained it in a piece earlier this month:
Winter is the most hygge time of year. It is candles, nubby woolens, shearling slippers, woven textiles, pastries, blond wood, sheepskin rugs, lattes with milk-foam hearts, and a warm fireplace. Hygge can be used as a noun, adjective, verb, or compound noun, like hyggebukser, otherwise known as that shlubby pair of pants you would never wear in public but secretly treasure.
If Denmark regularly topping the list of happiest country in the world is any evidence, the Danes are doing something right. (For reference, the United States hovers around 13th happiest.) "What distinguishes Denmark is its quest for hygge," the New York Times writes. It's infused throughout their culture. Things and events are described as hyggelig.
This trend is already all the rage in Britain. Harper Collins named it one of their top words of 2016. One of the bestselling books in Britain right now is The Little Book of Hygge. The book will be released soon stateside. It appears that United States will be the next country to dive headfirst into the hygge wave.
How to hyggee
A plethora of how-to books on the topic are soon to hit shelves. Titles such as How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life and The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort and Connection will walk you through exactly how to bring this Danish custom into your own home. But here's the jist.
It all begins with holing up home. If you have access to a cabin in the woods, go to there. All the better if the weather is snowy, cold and awful, giving you more reason to barricade yourself in.
Next you need some fire. Extra points if you have a fireplace. If you don't, plenty of candles will do. (New York Times reports that Danes burn 13 pounds of candle wax per person a year.) But not the Yankee Candle variety. Unscented ones are way more hygge.
Invite some friends over -- but not too many. Be selective and invite your nearest and dearest crew. And what to do? Eat, drink and be merry. This isn't a dinner party though. This is a casual event. Above all, ensure there are enough fuzzy blankets and socks to go around. Cozy is key. Everyone must be super duper cozy for you to succeed at hygge.
If you want to go full Danish, you'll need some warm glogg or tea. Porridge and cake to eat. If you want to do it à L'américaine, order Seamless. As you eat your porridge and sip your tea, it is time to become enthralled in a Netflix mystery show. Something scary and crime-y is ideal.
Friends, warmth and sustenance. That's really all you need to bring a healthy dose of hygge into your home. If you don't feel immediate happiness after your first hygge sesh, don't worry. It may take time. Keep in mind the Danes have been working at this for years. With repeated practice, you, too, can grow to become a hygge happiness expert.