What Is Hygge? - FocusU

What Is Hygge?

What’s the Big Deal about ‘HYGGE’?


Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets To Happy Living, and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, says that Hygge has been called everything from “the art of creating intimacy,” to “coziness of the soul,” and even, “cocoa by candlelight.”


So what exactly is Hygge and why is everyone talking about it?

The word Hygge (pronounced as ‘hue-guh’) comes from a Danish word meaning “to give courage, comfort, joy”And Wikipedia says it is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. While this sounds very mush-y, let us understand this term a little better by answering a simple question.

What is your fondest memory? Take a moment and think about it.

Ready with your answer?

As someone who leads the Hygge initiative at FocusU, I asked these questions to some of my friends/ colleagues and given below are a few responses I received:

  • Sunday lunch with family
  • Galli cricket with friends
  • Summer vacations with cousins
  • Watching the sunrise after a long hike
  • Mom/ Grandmom oiling their hair with coconut oil
  • Sitting in a hammock on a lazy sunny day, drinking beer
  • Holding their newborn baby in their hands for the first time


While this list can go on and on, I hope it resonates with your fondest memory, as well. If it did, do share your memory in the comments below – I would love to read it!

Regardless of how unique or even wacky our fondest memories might sound, they all have some things in common:

  1. They made us happy – even the thought of it makes us smile
  2. It was either with people we love/ loved or about spending some much-needed time with ourselves
  3. It was something simple – nothing fancy!

The point I am trying to make here is, that these fondest memories are in one word ‘Hygge’ – a feeling, a moment of belongingness, comfort, love, and camaraderie.

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Hygge is all about creating a warm and cozy atmosphere that helps you forget all your worries and gives you a chance to enjoy the good things and the small joys of life. Now whether this comes from playing a sport, having a drink with friends, or enjoying a relaxing spa session is up to you – but the warmth you feel while doing that act is Hygge. It is not about materialistic things, although it has been positioned that way in some parts of the world by selling expensive candles, blankets, and coffee as a solution for spreading instant happiness.
There is no ‘secret ingredient’ here – it is your actions, words, and thoughts that bring about the happiness vibe which Hygge stands for.

Living Hygge is all about being mindful of our own happiness and of those around us. Doing small yet mindful things that make you and others happy on an everyday basis is living Hygge.
You would say, we have been doing this – the Danes just coined a name for it.
That might be true, however, but what they did differently was to ensure that they live and experience Hygge consciously, on an everyday basis. And they did it in a way unique to their surroundings and habits. This should inspire us to localize it to suit our own culture, lifestyle and apply it to our lives – both personal and professional.

Our professional life comprises many to-do’s, goals, targets, etc. – how do we bring in Hygge amongst all of this? Besides, do we even need Hygge at the workplace?
An HBR article titled – ‘We all need friends at work’ talks about a study that showed that workers are happier in their jobs when they have friendships with co-workers. Employees have further reported that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying.
Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.
This clearly shows that bonds and friendships at work have a positive impact on our work. Likewise, Hygge at work can bring in the following things:

  • Make the office a better place to work in
  • Celebrate happiness and small joyful events at work
  • Hang loose and let our guards down, every once in a while
  • Acknowledge and appreciate people and their efforts
  • Bond better and create an environment of harmony

Hygge at work does not require a big budget for employee engagement – it is the small steps we take towards our family at work. It could be a selfless act of kindness, bringing a smile on someone’s face, being there for people during their hard times, going the extra mile for your colleague or even a client.

That’s literally all it takes.

As you can see, it is not rocket science – we all have been doing it, thus it is time to take it to the next level. Hygge can be one of the company values or a part of your culture deck. Living Hygge at work is about making conscious efforts to observe, acknowledge and recognize people and their efforts on an everyday basis. It is a way of life!
So if you want to live Hygge – the first thing you might want to do is put on the Hygge lense and see the good in people; in yourself and celebrate it.

At FocusU, we live Hygge every day by celebrating work anniversaries, remarkable efforts, small and big wins – and sometimes just being grateful for the mad crazy bunch we all are.

That is what works for our ethos, what do you think will work for yours?
How do you plan to bring in some Hygge in your life? Do let us know!

Thank you for taking out time to read this!

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