The Gift of Receptivity: Hygge

  • Jan 29, 2024
  • 4 min read

Visiting Denmark two years ago and having this visit to be around Christmas was enchanting. Warm houses and even warmer people were welcoming me into their cozy and festive meal tables. As I learned hygge was not just about the cozy lights, delicious food and drinks but family and friends to enjoy all together. I thought I had never seen a cozy place like this before. This was my first time being introduced to the Danish concept of hygge. But was it the first time I experienced hygge? Perhaps I was recalling my old childhood friend. Or my childhood friend was making its way back to me. I couldn’t tell.

I thought hygge was something to be found. Something outside of me since my encounter with it was in a far foreign country. I thought it didn't exist in the country that I was coming from.

Up until this day, I sat down in a cozy coffee shop where I enjoyed the sun coming through the window and finding its reflection on my face. I let the beauty of this moment captivate me. I allowed this place to become home, where exactly I am supposed to be even just a little while.

As I returned to the feeling of hygge at that moment, I needed to recall who I was exactly. I was the finder of the hygge or the hygge that would always make its way to me, as far as I can remember. Then a story from the past emerged, bringing more clarity as I remembered how once we were inseparable. I wondered how our paths got separated. How did I lose my old friend or how come my friend couldn’t make its way back to me anymore?

When we were kids, my brother and I saw really ugly places. Places that would hurt the eyes of people. Unaired and smelly elementary school classrooms, and the dirty ugly old school bus that would take us to school every day. I remember dirty peers with their oily hair and running noses. Even in these circumstances while being surrounded by all of this ugliness, hygge always made its way to me. Although the places that are made by humans were ugly, nature was always the source of beauty for me. The hygge I know was all we created together as kids and often in nature. Even being surrounded by this ugliness at the school, I would make my way to enjoy my lunch on a tree in the schoolyard which was surrounded by olive, lemon, and orange trees. I would enjoy my thyme-seasoned chicken sandwich while sitting on a swing-like branch of a lemon tree that was almost carved out for me.

Now, years later as we were talking with my brother about those eye-hurting ugly places that we had to have been while growing up, we didn’t let that get away with us. We always made the most of where we were once.

On the weekends we were in the mountains striving to build our dream cottage that we saw in the American movies kids had. These projects meant a lot to us; building something that would be ours. Together, my brother and all the other kids in the neighborhood worked on our project. Every weekend was a new project building a new cottage because none of them would survive to the next weekend.

One day we did manage to build something stable that we could enter in and we even made wooden little benches to sit inside. This cottage that we built was just in front of the neighbor's house and not long after building it, the neighbor tore down our beloved house. All the energy we put into collecting different materials and building this little home disappeared in just seconds when the cottage was demolished. Then perhaps we forgot about it. Until one day, We found the most magical place that was just carved out for us in nature. This place was on top of the cliff-like edge of the mountain where it was covered by bush-like trees and it even had sitting spots carved out of rocks inside. From the outside, it didn’t look like it was a place where you could enter. I think this is also what made it very special, a place that only we knew.

That day we found our permanent place, this place seemed like it was designed for us that was beyond our dreams. To reach this place we needed to climb big hole-shaped rocks. This passage looked like a portal. It allowed us to travel between the world of adults and the world of play. We called this passage a toilet. It looked like we were being flashed to the real world just after finishing our play in this place.

Just like back then I’ve got a hunch today that there must be something out there carved out for me. Waiting to be found. I just need to be open to receiving it.

Reexperiencing the hygge was the remembrance. It was returning home to myself. And, allowing myself to receive what it wants to make its way to me.