Hygge Is January’s Happiness Project Theme

For January 2017, I focused on Hygge and Cozy Rest for my happiness project.

What is hygge?

Hygge has become a wildly popular word lately, and I can’t think of a more fitting time for that than in the dead of winter after a crazy political season. Hygge is a Danish word that is hard to translate, but it means something along the lines of cozy, intimate, feeling good. Here is one really nice quote that tries to define hygge:

“Though there are many ways to describe hygge, we see it simply as the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Family. Graciousness. Contentment. Good feelings. A warm glow. Certainly, hygge is intrinsic to the Danish lifestyle, but this feeling of well-being, so deeply satisfying and cozy, is something we all experience, each in our own way.” (Found at skagen.com here.)

hygge happiness project

To me, “cozy rest” and “hygge” are close to the same thing. As you can see from my other guiding words for the month, this focus has meant paying attention to my sleep routine, tending to a morning quiet time, taking delight in stories, utilizing resources for help, and going deep. Let’s look at all that in more depth.

My sleep routine

Since becoming a mom, it’s been too easy to disregard my own self in areas like self care routines. I always brush my teeth, of course, but even the simple habit of a nightly face washing has often gone by the wayside. So in January, I focused on washing my face each night, often taking a nice hot shower to rinse off dirt and tension and warm myself up. I also got a new pair of warm flannel pajamas and made sure to change into my jammies before bed each night for some comfortable downtime. This helped me think of bedtime as a pleasure.

Morning quiet time

Sometimes this is hard for me. I often wake up with either anxiety about what I have to do for the day or wondering what big news I missed overnight, whether it’s in headline form or my email inbox. I want to reach right for my phone and get that hyper-adrenaline rush most of us are addicted to these days. So in January, I decided to change that as much as possible. I resisted reaching for my phone–most days but certainly not all.

Even before the internet and smartphones, I used to get upset with myself for turning on the TV morning news before having quiet journaling time, so this kind of adrenaline rush junkie stuff isn’t totally new. It’s just even more pervasive than ever. Instead, I took an hour or two in the mornings to sit in my new recliner and read or write or just stare out the windows. Truthfully, I didn’t settle on one routine, I just focused on quiet. If I was having a hard time being quiet at home, I went to the coffee shop to find it. It worked and helped me feel much more centered and, in the long run, more productive.

Delight in stories

This means books and magazines or TV and even podcasts. I delight in stories, and this month I wanted to celebrate that. I haven’t read as many books as I’d like–just a few, in fact–but I have had fun watching The CrownVictoria, Mercy Street, Treehouse Masters, and other TV shows. I also listen to podcasts like The Robcast and How I Built This from NPR while walking at the mall a couple of days a week. And I have let myself indulge in reading my favorite magazines, with a special treat being the UK version of Country Living, often during my morning quiet time.

Utilize resources

George broke his arm on New Year’s Day, and that gave an unexpected twist to my Happiness Project. I found out that having a partner with only one arm means I had to do a lot more work. It’s made me appreciate how much he “picks up the slack” and relieves me around here, even if I’m the primary home caregiver. It also made me realize we needed help. So, I decided to utilize some resources, following my project principle of “Recruit help.” This included hiring out driveway snowblowing for the winter (bring on the snow!) and even ordering groceries online for my PrepDish dinner prep each week. It felt amazing to pay just five bucks for someone else to shop for me, and all I had to do was drive up and pick up. Learning to utilize resources has been a big win for both George and me!

Go deep

To go deep this month, I have been reading Sonia Choquette’s book, Your Heart’s Desire. It’s a fun and simple way to get in touch with my heart’s desires, what I want and don’t want, and to get my subconscious out of the way of creating what I want for my life. I’m tired of heavy thinking and vision/goal setting, so “going deep” in this way is still lighthearted and fun for me, but it is getting to the depths. My morning quiet time has also been a time to go deep, just sitting with myself and my feelings as they arose. It felt right and good.

That’s it for January 2017 for my happiness project. Stay tuned for updates on February’s theme, Relationship.