hygge, contentment, happiness, Danish, Kierkegaard, socks, Andersen, fairy tales

how to get hygge

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A couple of years ago, the well-to-do western world woke up to a Scandinavian concept — hygge. It’s a word in Danish and Norwegian. The bad news: no sound in the English language corresponds to the “y” in the word. It is closer the how the French pronounce the letter “u”. But that’s just the start of, let’s call it “cultural indigestion.”

Mostly the concept poses a Danish marketing marvel– at least it seems they’ve spoken more about it.  The appropriation for sheer marketing purposes — how to get hygge — has been a bit much for some people.

See for instance on Mashable: “Your hygge-obsession is weird and misunderstood, please stop.

It’s simple, it’s plain, it’s almost mystical

Some Danes have loved it, others have strenuously objected.  Denmark, as well as Finland — another Nordic country — has been voted the “happiest country in the world” on more than one occasion. But the critics won’t stand for being distorted through the lens of spiritual merchandising. The culture suffered — they say. The packaging of everyday wellness as an exotic desirable something from the happy world of Scandinavia was a travesty. They feel ripped off.

Stuff happens in the import-export business… But we Americans should not be too concerned about this, because hey, what has been more imported, borrowed from and distorted than the products and syllables of American culture.

Kierkegaard’s secret contentment

It’s comical. It immediately goes, in an international context, to the vexing question of how to get it. How to master it. Ten ways to come in harmony with it. How to bring it into your life. How to practice it. Instead of feeling comfort and well-being from the concept, I am already feeling stress. I am not able to get it. How do I know what I got is the real Danish secret of happiness?

The New York Times says Kierkegaard exemplifies Denmark’s “national devotion to the warm, the fuzzy, the cozy.”


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