Off the Shelf: Hygge: Make the best of winter

Now that Christmas has passed, I’m ready to settle down and enjoy — or at least make the best of — the winter months that are inevitable in Minnesota. I’d like to take a cue from the Danish since they have a word that encompasses a feeling of wellbeing and comfort. “Hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity. It’s there in the things we do that give everyday life value and meaning, that comfort us, make us feel at home, rooted and generous” (Book of Hygge).

You don’t have to learn or do anything different to feel hygge. That’s the best part! You are already doing it! It is just being aware of things that elicit feelings of being cozy and content. Take me for example. Some examples of hygge for me are taking a walk to the lake, sitting around a campfire, or spending time with family. So, hygge means different things to different people.

If you need some inspiration to figure out what this feeling of comfort and wellbeing means for you, the library has several books you can check out to immerse yourself in hygge.

“The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection” by Louisa Thomsen Brits (747.0948 Brits).

“American Cozy: Hygge-inspired Ways to Create Comfort & Happiness” by Stephanie Pedersen (646.7 Pederse).

“Making Winter: A Hygge-inspired Guide for Surviving the Winter Months” by Emma Mitchell (745.5 Mitchel).

The Swedish people also have a word: “lagom.” Loosely translated, it means “just right, not too much, not too little.” Betty says it sounds like the three bears, not too hot, not too cold, just right. That’s actually pretty close. It’s about striking a balance between having what you need but not more than you need. If you are striving for a more balanced life, “Live Lagom: Balanced Living, the Swedish Way” by Anna Brones (646.7 Brones) may appeal to you.

Scandinavians have the right idea…make the best of any situation. If nature gives you nothing but snow, get some people together and make a snowman or have a snowball fight! Or have some hot chocolate and enjoy watching the snowflakes while you postpone shoveling a little while longer. Hygge. It all depends on your attitude!