Creating Contentment

Creating Contentment

‘Hygge’ means live in the light, fight back the dark

Making Ripples

Not everyone is going home for the holidays, but anyone can go “hygge.” You may already know this trendy Danish word, which is a newsflash for those of us who are often unplugged and living remotely. (I am more in touch with a certain great blue heron than any mainstream trend!) As uninformed as I am, when I read about hygge, it was not something I could try at home; it was something I was already feeling.

To me, hygge is a steaming bowl of porridge while watching the ducks fly over the pond, a candlelit dinner for two after cooking a delicious healthy meal, a good book and a cup of tea with a wooden sugar bowl carved by a local artist, hitting your stride and finding flow on a hike, or curling up under a soft blanket to watch a movie with virtual friends.

“Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment,” according to Wikipedia. In this case, there is no hygge expert or institution that could be more accurate than a Danish or Norwegian person, because the concept is not scientific but cultural and personal. Everyone experiences well-being differently, and hygge is as flexible as a sapling in a storm. It’s meant to uplift the spirit during the dark winter days (especially in the northern regions) and help us to weather storms, such as a pandemic that might be keeping us from holding our loved ones.

If you want to feel hygge, you don’t need to buy anything. Unless, of course, nothing you own brings you a feeling of peace, which is yours to define. Maybe you don’t have any candles or books at home and really want them; that’s OK, get yourself some of whatever you want and can afford. But the concept of hygge is not a consumerist mindset. In fact, the simpler your space, the clearer your mind.

Center Street Mercantile on Block Street in Fayetteville offers many home goods that are hygge-inspiring, including locally-made candles named after local businesses and a variety of products created by local potters, sculptors, farmers and artists. This wooden sugar bowl was handcrafted by wood turner Arlo Blaisus. Your hygge might come from a cup of tea and a cozy mystery novel or simply just being in the moment.

By keeping our environment clean and free of clutter or anything that would cause stress, we create the opportunity to enjoy hygge throughout the day. It’s more of a feeling than a practice and can best be described as any moment you find charming, special, intimate or cozy. To feel hygge, one simply needs to be conscious of the moment and become aware of the little things about life that make it enjoyable.

For you, that might be safely celebrating in the company of others, or alone with an indulgent cup of coffee. One of the best parts of hygge is that it can make us better versions of ourselves and boost our resilience. Other ways hygge makes ripples is by its focus on quality, health, simplicity, love and natural materials. When our mug was made by a local potter, it has more meaning than a cheap cup. If we’re surrounded by plants instead of plastic, our home feels authentic and alive. So as we begin the holiday shopping season, remember to feel hygge and give it to others via quality time or a gift made by a local artist or something sustainable and cozy.

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at

Categories: Making Ripples