Most people like to hit the ground running at the first of the year, putting all or most of their focus on the goal they’re determined to reach. The thought is that the more time that’s spent trying to force results, the quicker those results will come. In reality, that mindset can lead to stress and burnout faster than it will take you to your goals, whether they’re weight loss and fitness, career related, or some other objective.
Take a look at your track record. If your MO is to jump into a New Year’s resolution with both feet leaving all other parts of your life in the dust, you probably cycle through excitement and determination, frustration, and, eventually, abandon your goals only to pick them up and go through it all again later. This year, take some advice from Signe Johansen and take a gentler, more balanced approach to your ambitions. In her new book How to Hygge, Signe explains how the Nordic philosophy can bring more balance into your life. Put your focus on hygge, and you might be surprised at how quickly everything else falls into place.
Did You Say “Hookah?”
Unless you’re fluent in Danish, you might find it difficult say “hygge.” Depending on which website you reference, it can be pronounced “hue-gah” or “hoo-ga.” No matter how you say it, the concept is the same: balancing your life by taking time to enjoy the simple things. Cutting through all the suggestions that various hygge experts have for practicing the philosophy, the bottom line is slowing down enough to appreciate the world around you.
Benefits of Hygge
When your life is all about work, working out, or taking care of the family without scheduling in time for relaxing, your stress levels go off the charts, and you may find yourself barely functioning and living in the burnout zone. On top of making it next to impossible to achieve anything, especially new and aggressive goals, stress will undermine your health. According to Healthline, stress can cause
- high blood pressure
- heart problems
- impaired immune system
…and it can affect your breathing and digestion as well as complicate your condition if you have diabetes.
That’s where hygge comes in. NetDoctor explains that many elements of practicing hygge are balancing and ultimately good for your health. Some of these include getting as much sleep as you need rather than what you have time for, getting outdoors any time of year, exercising as part of your lifestyle (not as your entire lifestyle), and taking some “you” time every day instead of once a century. Also, appreciating the simple parts of life requires putting things into perspective, which also helps bring balance into your life. Any one of these will reduce stress, but imagine how calm and tranquil your life would be if you incorporated them all.
Okay, Let’s Not Skip the Suggestions
If you read a brief explanation of hygge, you could come away with the impression that it’s not a precise concept, and that’s partially true. Even the simple definition listed above isn’t comprehensive. Some say hygge is living in an atmosphere of coziness. Others focus on the idea of relaxing. Whatever you see hygge as, you might be at a loss for implementing it.
It sounds counterintuitive to schedule time for relaxing into your day but, at first, that may be the only way you can get started. Living in such a driven society, it feels wrong to not be doing something viewed as productive all the time. Adjust your mindset to see hygge as productive and then set some goals every day. Forbes recommends blocking out time to spend with friends or family, taking a walk or bike ride, lighting some candles and enjoying a soak in the tub, or sitting down with some comfort food and truly enjoying every minute of eating it, sans all electronics including your laptop, smartphone, and the TV. Yes, even your workout can count as hygge if it’s truly “you” time and feeds your soul. Need a more comprehensive guide to hygge? Get Johansen’s book, or simply follow this Scandanavian adage:
“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.”