After nearly nineteen hours of intercontinental travel, we, Los 4 Fantásticos, stepped through the front door and zombie-walked toward anything radiating “comfort.” We Pig Piled on the cats, even the annoying one. We made hot chocolate from a brick-sized bar and simmered it with a cinnamon stick, cloves, and whole fat evaporated milk. Chocolate in all forms was consumed. We put on elephant-sized clothing, and the kids collapsed upon their toys and wept. They were so happy. We were so happy. It was truly awesome.
Yes, we were wusses!
It turns out, though, we’re not the only wuss-out-inclined people. Danes can’t handle life either. Roberto recently read a BBC News Magazine article by Justin Parkinson about a practice in Denmark called hygge. Hygge, pronounced “hoo-ga,” is roughly translated to English as “well-being” or “cosiness.” It is the practice of being kind to yourself. It can involve candle light, oversized blankets, wool sweaters, fires crackling in fireplaces, warm pastries paired with warm beverages, and in our case, over-consumption of Gilmore Girls.
“Hygge isn’t just a middle-class thing. Absolutely everyone’s at it from my dustbin man to the mayor,” says [Helen] Russell[, author of The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country.] “Hygge is so crucial to living Danishly that the other day on the motorway, I saw a camper van driving along with lit candles in the windows. This is probably illegal but Vikings don’t tend to be too hung up on health and safety.”
The Danes must be doing something right since they rank third (and are not too far off from Switzerland and Iceland, the one and two spots) in the World Happiness Report 2015. (Look to page 26 for the ranking.) Each night in Lima, as Roberto and I settled the kids down from a day of family get-togethers, taxi trips, and long walks through the beeping, dusty city, we fantasized about the things we were going to do in The Shell when we returned. Watching non-stop Gilmore Girls (GiGi, as we call it) on Netflix featured prominently. (You really need to check it out if you haven’t seen it already. I laughed about it until Roberto converted me). Driving in our own car with children in car seats on giant highways was also mentioned. Sometimes, you just need a Mental Health Day. Sometimes The Shell needs to contract.
What will you do to be kinder to yourself and live more hygge-lishously?