Have Yourself Some Hygge

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

I’ve been reading about an interesting part of Danish culture recently known as hygge. (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it. I’ve heard it said a few different ways.) My interpretation of the word based on what information I’ve gathered so far is coziness. Apparently it is a major part of the Danish lifestyle and vocabulary. And given that Danish people are ranked some of the happiest people in the world, I wanted to write a little bit about this concept today.

I find it so interesting that a lot of things that are deemed hygge are the exact same things that have always given me that cozy, safe feeling my whole life. I would love to know why these comforts seem to be able to cross cultural barriers. I’m sure there are some interesting psychological principles behind that. Either way, I plan on making hygge a huge part of this holiday season and the year ahead.

To me hygge seems like the ultimate mindful incorporation of self-love into everyday living. Hygge is all about soft lighting, warm food and drink, quiet corners, soft blankets, comfy clothes, and dear friends. Sounds like Christmas right? Well why not invite that warm feeling each and every day?

I’ve always been obsessed with low, soft lighting. There is just something about string lights and lamps that provide a sense of peace and comfort. Just the image of snuggling up with my pets on the couch, candle burning, book in hand, coffee brewing, makes me feel so happy inside. To me, this is self care. This is self love. And this is the atmosphere I want to give myself in 2021.

But since fall and winter are the most hygge seasons, I’m obviously not going to wait until then to begin. I found a free PDF of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living if you’re interested in learning more for yourself. It seems like a general introduction to the concept, so I’m eager to find more material on the subject. I hope to find more helpful tips on how to make my home as hygge as possible. As well as maximize my family holiday hygge factor.

One important part of hygge that I worry I’ll struggle with is the social connection. However, I am hoping that my excitement to incorporate hygge into my life will encourage me to create more meaningful social encounters with my close friends and family. A hygge hangout seems like exactly my cup of tea.

Let me know if you have any hygge habits that you can share. I have become ravenously hungry for everything hygge! If any of you are Danish or know about Danish culture, please feel free to explain this concept to me better, as I’m sure there is still a lot I don’t understand about hygge.

Photo by Isabelle Taylor on Pexels.com

Season of Self-Care

I am someone who dearly loves the summertime. I often start to feel the effects of seasonal effective disorder as the days grow shorter and colder. Already I sense the long dark winter looming on the horizon. I feel a desperation begin to settle over me as the green hues of hot summer days give way gracefully to the orange and red undertones of autumn.

This year has me especially worried since I haven’t been doing so well even during the summer months. That’s why I’d like to set some intentions to be gentle with myself as this year of inner and outer turmoil comes to a close. I am always so hard on myself. I never seem to give myself credit for all that I do. I am always focusing on the ways I’m falling short of my own expectations.

Before the lack of sunlight starts to sap all of my energy, fall does seem rather inviting and cozy to me. Cuddling up with my fur children with a cup of hot tea of chilly evenings, making hearty stews, enjoying the return of pumpkin spice everything. It all seems rather nostalgic and comforting. I want the changing of seasons this year to be just another chance for me to practice being grateful for what is in front of me rather than anxious about what I don’t have or have lost.

I have to keep reminding myself that I deserve to rest. I deserve to simply enjoy the stillness between each moment. To savor every sweet breath.

It’s Flu Season (For Non-Vegans)

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Around this time of year I always notice those around me beginning to sniffle, cough, and miss work or school. This used to make me quite anxious because I knew that I would soon be next. I can still remember as a child getting sick in a seemingly continuous cycle throughout the year. At the time I viewed this as a normal part of being young. I couldn’t wait for my immune system to finally build defenses against these different illnesses so that I could stop wondering when I would find myself once again writhing in discomfort from another stomach bug or sore throat.

As I got older, I did begin to notice a decrease in the frequency of these illnesses. But still I could have never imagined making it through an entire year or more completely healthy. The worst part was that I didn’t think much of this at all. I thought getting small sicknesses regularly was normal. I didn’t think there was anything to be done about it except to deal with the symptoms when they arose.

Now that I have been vegan for a significant number of years, I’ve begun to notice that I don’t ever really get sick at all. I can’t even recall the last time I had a stomach ache. I used to dread the days I would inevitably spend immobilized in bed, trailing back and forth to the bathroom in an aching delirium. Now it is very rare that I even have to deal with a slight cough. I began a new job over a year ago now and I have yet to take a single sick day. While when I was in school I was guaranteed to miss at least a few weeks each year.

I will never cease to be amazed at the incredible transformation I have experienced in quality of life since transitioning to a vegan diet. It honestly saddens me that so many people will never know just how good it feels to be alive in a fully healthy body. I feel as if I could almost compare it with taking a psychedelic drug. Not in sensation of course, just the sheer wonder of discovering a completely different physical and mental experience that previously you had no idea your body was capable of.

It is becoming more commonly known that a vegan diet can improve longevity and long-term health. The World Health Organization has stated consuming processed meats is just as cancer causing as smoking cigarettes. Yet we continue to permit parents to feed these products to their children, while any parent offering a 5-year-old a cigarette would be considered appalling. Child services would certainly intercede on the child’s behalf in the latter case when really both are the same in effect. Human beings tend to be quite incompetent when it comes to following scientific information to it’s logical conclusion in practical application. We also seem to have a difficult time delaying gratification in order to obtain an ultimately much more gratifying reward in the future.

I wanted to write this post to perhaps help give more people the motivation to try a vegan diet if not for the sake of the animals and our earth, then for their own benefit. If you are young, avoiding heart-disease, diabetes, and cancer most likely isn’t something you are too concerned about at the moment. But the health benefits of eating plant-based, whole foods may be appealing to more people if they knew that there was more to it than that. It is hard to express how different and pleasurable it is to just be in my body now. It almost feels as if the universe has given me a magnificent gift for doing what is right. I hope more than anything that some day we will all live in a vegan world where so much suffering will finally end.

I have often wondered what effect consuming so much pain, fear, and stress hormones has on the body. As far as I am aware there have never been any studies done on something of this nature. It’s important to remember though that the animals most of humanity eats are not healthy. They are sick, tortured, miserable beings, many of whom have never had good food themselves or even felt the sunlight. I truly believe that this must have some consequence and I think that consequence is the way I used to feel and the way so many still do. My friends, I desperately hope that you will feed your body with love and not violence, and receive the rewards the universe has in store for you.

Live fully. Live vegan.