Hygge, The Thirty-Eighth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal


There is a distinct feeling of “hygge’” a Danish word for contentment that comes from comfort and an easy friendliness, that perfectly describes the vibe we encountered in Copenhagen.  Last week we had taken advantage of an Icelandair special to visit Copenhagen.  I have always wanted to go to Nordic countries, but they seemed so remote.  This deal with a stopover in Iceland was exactly what I needed to bridge the gap from a dream to a reality.  

Throughout the years I’ve read food and travel blogs about Denmark and Copenhagen.  And Copenhagen did not disappoint.  The food was excellent.  It’s so much fun to visit the outdoor markets, the covered markets, the cafes, the bakeries, and the restaurants.  And, like New York, Copenhagen is a great walking city.  Every chance I had I walked for miles, getting lost, finding myself in unknown neighborhoods or parks where there was always something new I encountered.  

Our very first day in Copenhagen, jetlagged and hungry, we set off for a foodhall.  The closest good one, we were told, was only one stop away on the “S” train.  We dutifully walked the 15 minutes to the train station, bought our four-day pass for public transportation.  The machine preferred European credit cards, so another ten minutes were spent trying to obtain our cards, but we prevailed.  Next, we set off to find the S train, only to see that there were multiple tracks.  We were flummoxed.  

Luckily, a passerby helped us out and though we ended up on the Subway, we eventually found our way to the market.  She was the first of many who embodied the hygge vibe.  She was friendly, considered our request, and offered the best way she knew to get there.  Even though we stopped others who had not known the directions we needed, all were kind, pausing from their morning commute to listen fully to our request.  And, though it was our first hour in the city, there were many interactions that reflected the hygge mentality.  

Right before we left for vacation, I had read a post that was critical of those who share their vacations on social media.  She, the poster, saw it as bragging.  It’s possible my posts can be perceived that way.  Though not my intention, I do understand that traveling is a luxury, and it’s not always accessible to all.  And, yet I love traveling and it’s an aspect of my life that always feels enriching.  However, I did wonder if it was appropriate to share my travels.   

After considering her post, I decided to share my experience.  Travel means a lot to me.  It gives me joy.  Not only do I get a great deal out of traveling, the least of which was learning more about hygge on this trip, but I do bring back what I learn and do my best to apply it to my everyday life.  I’m happy to be home.  There is a hygge in sleeping in my comfortable bed, though I do miss the feather beds on our mattresses in Copenhagen.  I am grateful to apply a new type of ease to my daily activities.  There’s a good reason Denmark is the second happiest country in the world.   I hope to visit Finland at some point, as that was rated number one.  I look forward to seeing what I can learn on that trip.  

Self-Care Tips:  

  • If you listen to or read someone who has a very strong opinion, see if it applies to you.  What they say is reflective of their point of view.  So often we shut down our expressive selves because someone else says it’s not okay.  Do your best to be okay with your choices and live your life fully as you, while not purposely hurting yourself or other. And understand not everyone will be okay with your choices, only you have to be okay with them.  
  • Apply “Hygge” to your life.  Find ways that bring ease and comfort.  It’s simple but not always easy to take the path of least resistance.  
  • Create a savings account for a specific goal or dream.  For instance, I have a separate travel account.  Even if your budget is small, set aside a dollar a week, less if that’s what’s needed.  It can make the goal seem more real.  There are many no fee apps and banks that allow for this type of account.  Or you can use a specific change jar for a goal.  This is great at any age.