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Adding the Brazilian touch to Hygge is the perfect recipe for happiness.
Not too long ago, I learned of Danish Hygge (pronounced hooga) and fell in love with the concept. But, as a Brazilian-American family, I realized adding Brazilian hospitality, energy and playfulness — takes Hygge to the next level, creating the perfect combination of contentment.
What is Hygge?
Hygge is a Danish word for being comfortable and cozy with feelings of wellness and contentment. It is a Danish concept, but also a large part of Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish culture. There isn’t an exact translation, but “cozy” is the closest in English terms. It’s been a craze in popular culture throughout the world now that seems to be up there with the minimalism and KonMari (Japanese organizing) trends, but is so much more than just simplifying and organizing.
It’s coziness, warmth, contentment, togetherness, relaxation. It’s gratitude and mindfulness. It can be practiced alone or with loved ones.
I don’t need a DNA test to confirm Danish blood because Hygge struck at my soul in such a way that I just must be Danish! Just one word, and such a simple concept, has improved the quality of my daily life and relationships.
When I first learned of Hygge, I was instantly in love. It is no wonder why this lifestyle has hit the world by a storm.
Hygge isn’t just one thing. It can refer to all aspects of life in the form of a noun, verb, or adjective to describe something that falls under the category of Hygge.
It is all things nice, cozy and safe but can also refer to a psychological state. Not just a cozy home, but anything that produces that feeling of well-being — simple, joyful contentment.
It can be Bailey’s in your coffee, the glass of wine after dinner, sitting around a bonfire with friends, a walk through the woods on a sunny October day, a swim in the ocean or even a Sunday afternoon nap.
Hygge is also about allowing all of your senses to enjoy everyday simple moments.
I once heard the reason French women are not overweight is because they take the time to savor their food. They use beautiful dishes and enjoy every sip or bite, making the meal special. As a result, they end up eating less.
Looking around at my kitchen, I realized many of my dishes were old and mixed matched. Our meals were rushed and often distracted with the TV on.
This was not Hygge.
As a result, I did some KonMari on my kitchen supplies and only kept what sparked joy. I also replaced some bowls and glasses with really cute items that felt cozy and were visibly pleasing. I found that these simple changes make me feel warm and get me to slow down as I eat to savor every bite. As an added bonus, I also enjoy looking at my uncluttered, pretty cupboards that used to annoy me.
This is Hygge.
With two teenagers, my family is very busy with work, school, sports, and other activities that it is easy to say “I don’t have time” and rush life.
This is not Hygge, I recognized.
So, I decided to put a little extra effort on making the table setting cozy, even just for every day meals. I bought a cute table cloth and some flowers. I set out pretty wine glasses, even just for water, and lit some candles. Nothing that takes too much time that it adds stress, but just items that are pleasant, warm, and seemed special.
With the TV off, and an intentional decision to slow down and savor the togetherness — surrounded by pleasing things, we just couldn’t help but smile and laugh. Taking a few extra minutes for daily enjoyable togetherness can make all the difference in the world.
That’s Hygge and I love it.
The Danish recognize that nature is what we come from and despite cold winters, consider being active in nature as being essential, calming, inspiring, and necessary for Hygge.
Even with modern interruptions and challenging weather, it is important to embrace our natural call back to where we came from and incorporate nature into every day living.
Despite bitter winters, the Scandinavians are known to be one of the happiest cultures in the world. Hygge is attributed to this contentment.
Hygge in nature is about engaged in whatever activity or season you are in — and stopping to smell the roses. It is making the most of a situation by finding things to be grateful for instead of complaining.
It’s embracing the cold by wearing cute warm sweaters, cozy socks and mittens while taking walks through the snow. It’s coming home to warm drinks in cute mugs and snuggling up with a book by a crackling fire.
It’s appreciating and bringing nature indoors with plants and flowers.
And, when it’s not winter, it’s going to the beach and feeling the sand or tasting the salt water. It’s long hikes and bike rides.
For years I would go for a neighborhood walk just to put in my exercise time and rush back home for the next task.
This is not Hygge.
I began to notice that when I’d start out with Hygge in mind, I become attune to the wind, sounds of birds, the beautiful sky and flowers. With each pleasant sight and sound I say to myself “Oh, that’s Hygge” and I suddenly become so much more aware of my surroundings. I am in the present and am more deeply enjoying the moments.
This is Hygge.
Since there is no exact translation for Hygge in English there seem to be a few definitions floating around. I really resonate with this one:
(n.) a Danish concept of a complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things such as good food, wine, warm blankets, candle light and your favorite people.
Hygge is the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming.
This is important and at first can seem unrealistic, but I get it now. It’s a conscious effort to not allow that which is annoying or frustrating to become overwhelming through shifting toward gratitude.
Sometimes that seems hard because there are circumstances that are so frustrating and uncontrollable. But, I have found that if you are practicing Hygge in everything and surrounded by things that provide comfort, it is so much easier to cope.
It reminds me of the Law of Attraction a bit where Abraham Hicks asks us to acknowledge where we are at on the emotional scale and instead of fighting it, reaching for a better feeling thought, and then another one, until we can move up in vibration. And, remembering that the energy we are carrying is contagious.
Bad stuff and frustrating situations still occur even to those practicing Hygge. But, if your surroundings are Hygge, you may notice that instead of dwelling on anger or pain — if you take a moment to light that comforting candle and reach for that cozy, comfortable blanket and turn on soothing music — things feel just a little bit better.
That is Hygge.
The Brazilian Twist
Brazilians are known to be vibrant, energetic, playful, warm, relaxed and hospitable. Celebrations are celebrated like no other.
Creativity, laughter and play are key characteristics of the Brazilian personality. There seems to be a willingness to not take things too serious and laugh at themselves, as well as, the ability to make light of every day frustrations.
Instead of being “offended” or uptight they have a fun, easy way of making things lighter. Despite their struggles, Brazilians have a way of setting them aside and living joyfully in the moment.
And, it’s widespread.
Regardless of financial or class discrepancies, race, or other differences, Brazilians carry a warm, playful, fun, happy energy no matter the situation. It’s a unique Brazilian ability to set problems aside in order to enjoy the present moment.
Whether it’s the creative “ginga” they carry in soccer, music from the heart, Samba dancing, celebrating Carnaval, or hanging out at the beach — Brazilians work to live, not live to work. This is something I personally feel many Westerners, could learn from.
For those that know Brazilians, it’s easy to recognize the twinkle in their eye and the warmth they bring to the room, it’s charisma and an energy that is very uniquely Brazilian.
For me, Brazilians encapsulate the essence of joy.
Joy: (n) Gladness not based on circumstance.
Hygge is about spending time with loved ones, comfort foods and togetherness. This is important to Brazilians as well with their vibrant celebrations, baked goods, rich desserts, lively music, warmth, and laughter. So, when you combine the two there is no other way to go but to feel joy.
My husband is from Brazil so we are also a household with Latin influences that run deep. We have very good feelings from many things Brazilian. Feelings of family, comfort and happiness.
When I shared Hygge with my family we began to notice all things that were cozy and brought us contentment. We realized it was more than just crackling fires and cozy blankets — we enjoy hammocks indoors, condensed milk in our hot chocolate, strong coffee, Brigadeiros, Pao de Queijo, vibrant energy, laughter and sunshine.
We starting dubbing things that were cozy and comforting, but Brazilian, as being “Brazygge” because it was definitely Hygge but with Brazilian flair.
Brazygge to us is a synergy of vibrant energy, warmth and laughter, perfectly mixed with coziness and contentment: The recipe of true happiness.
Being aware of “Brazygge” and really paying attention to that which brought us coziness and contentment, we started simplifying life and looking at everything we own and do — recognizing when something feels good and when something doesn’t, then adjusting accordingly.
It is contagious and creates an environment of mindfulness and gratitude. We started noticing things we enjoyed and things we did not. Then, making mindful decisions to navigate toward things that felt good.
I notice that when something frustrating happens, I think “Brazygge” and remember, life is short. Worry and anger accomplish nothing except rob me of joy.
“Brazygee” is the ability to lighten up, laugh, let go, have fun and focus on the now.
I have worked for over 24 years near a farmers market. It has the most incredible flowers, soups, fruit and so much more. It has always been there but it wasn’t till I started practicing Brazygge that I really became aware how much I love the place. Before it was just a building across the street that I sometimes bought groceries.
But, to Brazygge — I became so much more aware of the environment and all it was offering. Friendly staff, fresh and juicy fruit, an amazing soup bar, homemade cheeses, fresh flowers and organic coffee. “I like this place.” I say to myself and it brings a smile to me that I never felt years prior — it was always just “there.”
I stop in on my lunch break. I let go of the work stress. I enjoy joking around with the friendly staff and soak in the environment.
That is Brazygge and I love it.
How can you Brazygge?
- Take time to make simple things feel special. Light candles, set out flowers and use pretty dishes. Slow down with your meals. Savor every sip, bite, and enjoy the conversations.
- If you don’t have a fireplace or you live in a warm climate but want to feel the coziness of a fire? Try wooden wick candles. There is just something special about the sound of crackling wood.
- Realize that you work to live, not live to work. Don’t take things too serious and make an effort to make things silly and enjoyable.
- Be present and let go. Struggles and frustrations are a part of life. But, set them aside and enjoy moments and memories.
- Be playful. Take a step back from every day pressures and let your playful side come out — even if it’s just for a few minutes every day — dance, sing, play. Feel the music and sing the words loudly… and laugh.
- Minimalize and declutter. Only keep items that spark joy.
- Friends and good food are simple ways to achieve the Hygge feeling. But, add Brazilian warmth by not limiting yourself — reach out and welcome the new neighbor or co-worker. Make a habit of being friendly, to everyone, and hospitable.
- Try new things and be creative. No need to think inside the box. Creativity improves problem-solving skills and also gives a rewarding feeling of accomplishing something new.
- Treat yourself to a daily dose of self-care. Take a break for tea or coffee and use a cute mug, enjoy the aroma, savor the taste. Take some time to read, journal, or soak in the bathtub.
And that is how to Brazygge. What things bring you comfort and joy? Please comment below: