I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark and southern Sweden this past October because I found round trip airfare from Dallas for under $400 and travel hacked free hotels so why not travel. I didn’t need to go or really know what was there other then I figured I’d see some cool Viking relics. But, the days were short in October and it rained or misted most days and overall it was a great trip! I drank lots of hot chocolate, sat next to open fire pits and ate at food trucks, walked through ornate parks, and just felt relaxed and slowed down. Here I sit even today, and I can’t remember a more at home and relaxed vibe while traveling. I have been researching the country more since returning, and discovered their overall happiness is off the charts, and there is a Danish concept sweeping across Europe and now just hitting our borders called Hygge. It can’t be translated into English, but reading the articles I know exactly what it is. I lived it for 10 days and it was great.
So what is Hygge (pronounced Hue-gah)? Let me try to explain from my American point of view. It is a cozy feeling of belonging among strangers in a strange land. It is dreary outside, but there is warmth in the people around you. It seems that open flames is a big part of it because everywhere you go there are candles on tables, fireplaces or fire pits that strangers gather around. Blankets are everywhere in hygge from the coffee shops, to book stores, to the restaurants outdoor eating areas. I sat in a bookstore, in a nice soft chair and browsed books in English with a blanket on me, while my children played in a park across the street. There seem to be small intimate spaces created throughout the city that draw people together and create a oneness. I felt very comfortable around everyone I sat with, and talked to many people on buses and trains that I normally wouldn’t have talked to. On Paper Island I sat outside by the canal in a swing by a fire pit and chatted openly about American politics with the locals and felt the least amount of judgment I have ever felt. That is the best I can describe in the feeling and national culture of hygge.
I didn’t know what it was or that it was even happening until I got back home to Dallas, which I thought was pretty laid back, but I was missing something. I have since created a nice cozy chair next to my fireplace with some new unread books about finance, religion, self help, and of course Denmark and travel. I have been sitting there in the evenings after the children were in bed on cold nights and just reading for hours relaxing by the fire. It is better then Netflix for me, and my wife has even on occasion sat down and read next to me. I am trying to recreate those relaxed feelings by creating those stress free times and atmospheres in my life. I even get many great ideas in my newfound relaxed state of hygge, such as blog topics for this site, and new ways to shuffle my mutual funds around. It gives me time to myself for self-reflection and helps me create plans to get my finances back in order when they begin to get out of control. Balancing our lives with three kids, working, and striving for financial independence can create overwhelming stress so, a warm shower, warm pj’s, warm drink next to a warm fire, in a cozy chair with an enjoyable read is an amazing weapon against your monkey. Hygge out good people, Hygge out.