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Loosely Literal: How to Hygge

Posted on Fri, Jan 6 2017 9:00 am by Sally Franson


How to Hygge: Ten Cozy Tips

As soothing as a video of a basket of baby sloths, and borne on a raft of lifestyle books, hygge is headed for your living room...More than 20 how-to hygge books were published in 2016.”
The New York Times, Dec. 2016

These days do you feel like our entire country has squeezed its eyes shut while drunk driving on a mountain? Did you recently become unglued on public transit after Googling “war in Syria”? Has an uncanny feeling washed over you like the garbage-filled ocean as you come face-to-face with history’s idiotic repetition?

Well, stop your weeping! This book is designed to help you grab a cozy blanket to hide under while the world burns around you. Hygge, in Danish, means being safe, snug, and secure. It entails hot beverages, warm candles, and finding happiness in little things you can buy at Paper Source. Hygge is natural, but you must strive for it. It’s easy and relaxed, but complex enough that you can substitute it for religion.

Too many of us are rushing from one thing to the next, caught up in the information overload, that we forget to take time to let ourselves be. Hygge slows us down so we can enjoy life’s cozy moments. It’s a lifestyle that’s a warm hug, a thundershirt, a cashmere throw laced with chloroform. Try these ten easy tips to add hygge to your life!  

1. Unplug
First things first: let go of those electronics. Our phones and computers take us away from “being in the moment.” They’re ugly, pesky, and constantly telling us things we’d rather not know about places we’ve never heard of, people we don’t know, and people we do know whose Facebook presence we find aggravating. Keep your devices at work, where Dan the Office Scapegoat can absorb your ire.

2. Spend Time Outside
As the Danes say, no tears fall when man is hiking. And unlike CrossFit, nature is free! Use these waning days before climate change takes a truly cataclysmic turn to take a walk in the woods, rent a canoe, or photograph the polar bears that have recently decamped to the Nashers’ backyard.

3. Handwrite Letters
Set aside time once a week to compose a letter to a crush, friend, or relative you’re still on speaking terms with after the election. Thoughtful notes brighten the day of both writer and reader, and it’s impossible for them to be hacked by the Russians.

4. Stay Home
Use that money you’ve been setting aside for international travel to turn your house into a cozy refuge, complete with nuclear bunker. Collect antique globes and tell stories with friends around the fire about the good old days of colonial empire.

5. Light Candles
Danes, on average, burn thirteen pounds of candle wax per person per year. Candles in the hearth, Danes say, makes for warmth in the heart. Lighting hundreds of them nightly is a sweet, hygge way to cope with the unpleasant urge you’ve had to drive around the country and burn down all the Exxons and Carl’s Jrs.

6. Take Up Handicrafts
If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, busy hands are an angel’s wet dream. Release your worries from the day and the cumulative pain of existence by gently knitting socks or embossing stationery while listening to the healing sounds of a white noise machine.

7. Cultivate Silence
Instead of crying in the car on the way to work while listening to Morning Edition, turn the radio off and savor your blissful, quiet ignorance. Politely shush the couple at Starbucks discussing how Muslims need to learn “our ways” by explaining they are disrupting your inner peace.

8. Forage
Go on a hyggelig hunt for nettles, mushrooms, and other vegetation in a nearby park. Relish the fresh air and thrill of discovery. If that doesn’t work, forage in your neighbor Charlie’s apartment, which smells like a Burning Man trailer.

9. Enjoy A Well-Told Story
Curl up and binge-watch serialized television, preferably a historical drama, until you can’t remember what century you live in.

10. Tell Your Friends and Family You Love Them
Except the ones who disagree with you, as they can burn in hell.

Sally Franson received her B.A. from Barnard College and M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota. Her first novel, A Lady's Guide to Literature, will be published by Random House in 2018.