How to Hygge Your Way Through a Happier Winter

Learn the Scandinavian secret to coziness from some of the happiest people on Earth

Jim Farina


Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

Think about one of the coziest moments you can recall. We’ve all had those priceless occasions when you wish it would never end.

Conjure a time when you basked in the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of your surroundings — wondering if you can capture the experience for release at some future time. Those moments when you are feeling so warm, at peace, and cozy, it’s surreal.

I think of a time with special loved ones, wrapped in an oversized comforter thick-knit socks, in front of a crackling fire with a steaming-warm drink or a good glass of red wine in my hand—the glass refracting the dancing flames in a unique, abstract way.

Maybe it’s snowing like crazy, and you’re in some rustic spot. The lighting is low. Jazzy music is playing, candles are burning in tinted jars, and there is nowhere else you have to be.

Bread is baking, fresh-popped corn, and a great book is nearby to curl up with. The Danish have a unique name for these experiences, which could be their secret to happiness.

Danes Do Happiness Right

Danes rank very high among being the happiest people in the world. It’s likely to do with the generous, well-appointed welfare programs they have in place.

The exceptional, reasonably-priced beer can’t hurt either. In 2013 and 2016, Denmark ranked number one in the World Happiness Report. In 2020, Denmark ranked second globally, just behind Finland, its Nordic neighbor to the north.

There’s also a mysterious secret the Danes practice. It’s a secret we might be wise to tap into, particularly during these darker days of winter and the current state of global unrest.

Their secret is called hygge (pronounced: hyoo-guh). It’s an expression that’s not easily translatable to English, but the gist of it amounts to creating a sense of coziness.

Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and the author of The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well.