The year 2019 has arrived, and I gracefully slid into it from a hygge-induced state of complete contentment, which is a rare and special occurrence for me after almost a year and a half of schlepping myself through the Valley of Despair.
One of the things I kind of despise about America is our ability to turn any trend into, well, an obnoxious trend that you are suddenly inundated by online, in advertisements, in social media, in stores, on morning show TV segments… As a good example, see 2018: “The Year of the Llama”, where we apparently needed a llama branded onto everything from bath towels to our Christmas wrapping paper.
But the trend of Hygge, now that is something I can get behind. And I’ve become damn good at it.
One of the positive changes I made in my life in 2018 was to stop uttering the words “I don’t have enough time”, and replace them with “I haven’t made the time,” because lets be honest – we all have 24 hours in a day. Before I was promoted to my high-responsibility, high-stress job, my previous boss used to always take the two weeks off during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, and one of things I looked forward to the most when I was promoted to her position was to do the same. “Oh, how nice that must be!” I thought to myself, at the same time that I cursed her in my jealous rage of having to work over the holidays to keep up with year-end tasks.
It took me eight years to be smart enough to actually take those two weeks off. Like many over-achieving, Type-A, co-dependent types, I usually have multiple to-do lists, things to see, places to go, people to visit, projects to complete, and articles to read that I line up for my time off. These lists are all over my home, in my Evernote account, organized in spreadsheets on my computer, and stuck all over the place on post-it notes. Many days I collect all my to do lists and compile them into fresh to-do lists. Nothing gets done, but at least I look more organized.
But this year, this was the year of just getting into my Hygge. I slept til 9:00. I sat up in bed and read daily meditations. I took an hour to meditate and do yoga and stretches and journal. I wondered downstairs in my pajamas (and stayed in them all day) and tackled a few projects. I made delicious food. I lit a lot of candles. I revisited my Netflix account that I hadn’t seen since last December. I read a lot of books and caught up on stacks of magazines. I sat by my beautiful Christmas tree every day. And I snuggled every single blanket in my house.
And most importantly, I did not make plans. I tried really hard not to leave the house, unless it was for a date with Mother Nature – hygge at her finest.
How do you Hygge? Do you hygge? If not, I encourage you to try. Make some space and time and set yourself up right before starting. And then, do your best to turn off social media and other distractions and just get into the art of complete comfort, relaxation, and contentment with life. Stop DOING and start BEING.
Here’s how I hygge:
- Drinking: Spiced Apple Cider from Trader Joe’s, warmed up in the microwave. Add brandy if you must! I’m also a big fan of teas made by Rishi Tea.
- Wearing: The softest fleece pajamas you can find. I scored many great sets at Old Navy way back in the day. Kohl’s sells cozy winter pajamas as well. It’s also extremely critical to have wool socks on, and I swear your investment in Smartwool brand socks will pay off.
- Snuggling: Those ridiculously soft fleece blankets that you find around the holidays at TJ Maxx. Mine have penguins and polar bears on them, but for crying out loud you can get a taco or donut or sloth blanket now if that’s your jam. I also love to snuggle under my down comforter, and go figure that the Swedes, who are also darn good at Hygge, would make the best.
- Burning: Everyone has their favorite candle brand, but the funky tins from Big White Yeti are some of my favorite smells. I also love this Happiness candle from Target Boutique.
- Reading: I have stacks and stacks of books and magazines, and in 2018 finally got myself into the Audible world (mostly for the car and working out.). What you read is a personal choice, so I won’t give any recommendations here. I will tell you that as the year came to an end, I had the following in my library: an older Paulo Coehlo book , The Pilgrimmage, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m also reading a book about positive thinking and emotional set points, but I won’t share the title of that one here. I think my current audio library reflects the state of my mind as I entered a new year: thinking about mortality and illness, learning to change my mindset, seeking spiritual guidance, trying to understand our country’s history of systemic racism, and throwing a nice fiction book in to keep me balanced.
One of the books I read daily is a book gifted to me by a dear friend who passed away unexpectedly (to me) in 2018 of cancer. I miss her dearly, and can still hear her voice in my head, offering me support and guidance. Many years ago she quit a job that was killing her, and reinvented herself with a new career as a massage therapist. The first year she gave all of her clients the gift of this book – and I highly recommend it to every woman – even if you feel like you have good balance in your life. The book is Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, by Anne Wilson Schaef, and this is the entry for January 1:
Anything worth doing is worth doing frantically – New proverb
We women who do too much find the ending of an old year and the beginning of a new year to be a difficult time. There is always the temptation to try to “tidy up” all our loose ends as the old year closes. We fall into the trap of believing that is it possible to get our entire life “caught up” before starting a new year, and we are determined to do it.
Also, there is the temptation to set up an elaborate set of resolutions for the coming year so that we can, at last, get it right. As workaholics, we tend to be very hard on ourselves: nothing less than perfection is enough. Hopefully, on this first day of the year, we will be able to remember that we are perfect just as we are. I hope for the willingness to live this year in a way that will be gentle to myself… one day at a time.
Sigh, I love that. The permission to be gentle with ourselves. I am smiling as I realize that I started this post on the first of the year, and already the first month has almost passed before I am publishing it. But that’s ok. I’ve been up to some serious and necessary hygge.
Happy New Year all.