Several years ago, I came across the term Hygge while researching mindfulness. The word Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) is a Danish term for the feeling of comfort, togetherness and well-being. For Americans, we might liken this to a cozy feeling, when you are snuggled under a warm blanket reading a book while sitting near a roaring fireplace.
Hygge is not a new term or feeling, but it has been made hugely popular by author and happiness researcher Meik Wiking in his book The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. Wiking notes that Hygge is also about being grateful for what you have and enjoying the simple pleasures in your ongoing quest to find happiness in life.
Hygge in the United States
Although Hygge can be considered a state of mind, where you live can impact your level of Hygge as much as how you live. In fact, recent research conducted by BestPlaces.net revealed that there are 10 cities in the United States that create that Hygge feeling more than others. Rankings were based on several factors including how cozy the city’s weather is (ie. typically chilly cities made the list), amount of Hygge-like pastimes seen in the city (ie. reading books, cooking, playing games) and number of coffee or tea houses. The cities that ranked highest on the list, were seen to have an abundance of Hygge-like attributes in many of these areas; conversely, cities that did not consistently display these Hygge attributes ranked low on the list.
How Does Danish or Scandinavian Heritage Influence Hygge in U.S. Cities?
What I found most interesting was the correlation between a city’s Scandinavian influence and their level of Hygge. For instance, according to BestPlaces.net, the Salt Lake City metro area – which ranked number 4 on list of most Hygge U.S. cities – has the highest rate of Danish ancestry of the U.S. major metros, over 4.2% of the population. Likewise, other top 10 cities like Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Milwaukee and Denver all have higher rates of Scandinavian ancestry than non-top 10 cities.
As more people work at home permanently, the option to move to a more Hygge-friendly city seems even more achievable than ever before. However, if you’re not ready to move but are still craving cozy, even a mini-break in one of these cities may be just the trick to bring Hygge back into your life.