Everyone wants to know the secret to happiness. There are countless books about its pursuit—films, TED talks, Harvard studies. People spend their whole lives in search of it. And all along the people of Denmark have had the answer. We've all heard and said that it's "the little things in life," but the Danish way of living subscribes to this notion so whole-heartedly that there's even a word for it: hygge. (I definitely pronounced that incorrectly the first time I read it, so allow me: hoo-gah.) It's a feeling of coziness and warmth—sitting around a fire with good friends and candlelight and a cup of tea with steamed milk and honey. Things like that.
I'm currently writing this while curled up on a comfy sofa surrounded by pretty, patterned pillows with an adorable teacup Maltese snuggled up next to me. An intoxicating fragrance is wafting through the air from my Voluspa Santiago Huckleberry candle, a cool breeze is gently drifting in through an open window, and the Michael Bublé holiday station on Pandora is playing a smooth, jazzy soundtrack on continuous loop. In other words, I'm definitely having a hygge kind of day.
It's the feeling I get when my friends and I walk into an Anthropologie. One step over the threshold and we feel like new people. Any worries we had completely melt away, like someone cast a spell on us that we have no control over and suddenly anything is possible. The entire store smells like tropical fruits and sugared oranges, and its collection of artisanal housewares and ceramics by artists from all over the world are nothing short of inspiring.
When my husband and I are sitting in our living room and I'm wrapped in a cozy blanket and listening to him play Eric Clapton's "Layla" piano interlude on his guitar…hygge. When we have friends over for dinner parties and get to use our Suite One Studio rose-and-gold serving platter from our wedding gifts and reminisce on our happy day while creating new memories…hygge. When I take off my shoes and walk across a silky rug and feel the velvety softness on my feet…also hygge.
And obviously no good hygge story would be complete without a shout out to Love Actually. That whole film—though it takes place in London and not Denmark—just oozes with hygge. Well, okay; not the part where Emma Thompson's character discovers that her husband bought a lovely necklace for another woman and gave her a Joni Mitchell CD instead, or a few other unfortunate storylines. But Hugh Grant dancing through the Prime Minister's residence to the soulful stylings of The Pointer Sisters without a care in the world? Total hygge.
And, of course, the most hygge of all: the opening and closing scenes of the movie where we see friends and family full of emotion, embracing their loved ones as they arrive at Heathrow Airport. A reminder that the most important things in life—the true secret to happiness—are the moments we have with each other.