“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.” | JRR Tolkien
Here on the East Coast of the good ole U.S. of A., and here in Northern Jersey more specifically, we hold being busy as a badge of honour. The fuller our calendars and the longer our to-do lists, the bigger the illusion that we’re being productive. Time is a luxury, we know, and so we fill it with everything we possibly can in an effort not to waste it. Or perhaps I’m being generous. Perhaps “wasting time” isn’t even part of our calculations. Perhaps it’s more the idea that the busier one is, the more fruitful one will be. I’m not exactly sure where that notion originated but it’s become so firmly fixed in our East-Coast-minds that we feel guilty for taking time to rest or just be still. I suppose we think we’re not achieving our full potential or that we could be doing more. Orrrr maybe it’s the reality that being busy allows us to avoid the chatter of our brains and keeps us from facing whatever unpleasant-ness we’ve buried, which only surfaces in moments of quiet.
But we valiantly try to keep up friendships, familial ties, and the spirit of fun despite the busyness. Valiantly. But more often than not, despite our best efforts, this ends up happening…..
Hilarious because it’s painfully accurate. I recently experienced this in trying to coordinate a shindig with a group of friends. We live in different states and have different schedules and getting all of us together at some sort of half-way point with minimum expenses proved more difficult than I imagined.
I experienced this again late last year as I planned my 5-year High School Reunion. There are only 9 of us (small-private-school-life and it’s grand-beyond-belief :)) so it doesn’t sound too impossible when compared to public-high-school reunions. But we’re all in different seasons of life. Some of us are married. Some of us live in different states. Some of us have demanding jobs with little flexibility. But we hadn’t all seen each other together for 4 years so we were determined to make it work. We drove or flew into Jersey, brought food, sat in my friend’s cozy little living room at her family’s house where we used to gather in High School for shenanigans and laughter, and took a few hours to pause amidst the holiday busyness and reconnect with old friends. Dim lighting, desserts, coffee, 8 young adults (one of us wasn’t able to make it and we missed her terribly) and 2 significant others, laughter, hygge (don’t worry, I’ll explain in a minute…).
It struck me afterwards that we didn’t even bother to really catch-up on one another’s lives. No one asked about life after college, married life, engaged life, dating life, work life, none of it. We reminisced, made new memories, and left the troublesome things outside the house in the cold November night where they belonged. We’ve always had a certain chemistry between us, all praise to the Most High, and it was still there that night. We’ve had our share of ups-and-downs and we haven’t always gotten along perfectly but we do get on. There’s a sort of wavelength that we’re all on and it slithers through the room when we reunite and we all get on it as it passes by and we’re home once more. We are our own entertainment and I think that’s why we didn’t need to talk about Life as a way to fill up conversation. The conversation just sort of happened and I’m incredibly thankful to the Most High for those lovely humans whom He’s given me the pleasure of growing up with 🙂
That’s hygge. What I just described about my class reunion? That’s almost THE definition of hygge. Pronounced “hooga” (kinda, sorta), this lovely Danish word has become one of my new favourite things! I recently read the book The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Weiking and instantly fell deeply in love with the entire concept. Weiking isn’t a Christian so proceed with caution if you decide to check out the little book. See, the ultimate secret to happy living is living for the King of Kings and experiencing the Joy that comes from having your sins forgiven and washed away in the blood of Jesus. So while I’m going to share the things I love about hygge and about Weiking’s book, please don’t get the impression that I agree with every single thing he said or that I believe hygge is the be-all and end-all of life. It’s simply a lovely gift from the Most High and one that we overlook too often in favour of busyness and the whole “grind” mentality.
When Tolkien said “It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life”, he was most certainly talking about hygge, though perhaps he didn’t even know it 🙂 Weiking defines hygge as the feeling of togetherness and coziness and warmth and comfort which arises either by one’s little lonesome or with a small group of close friends/family. Life’s little pleasures and delights are very much hygge. Things like candles flickering on an Autumn evening, a crackling fire-place, blankets, over-sized sweaters, mugs of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate; laughter, food (particularly dessert-food :P), walks on the beach watching the sunset, picnics in a green, lush meadow on a cool Summer’s day, rain, soft music, sweatpants, window seats, books, and I could go on and on and on 🙂
Hygge is a way to slow down, pause, re-calibrate, and remember what’s actually important in life. Inviting friends over for movie night or a baking night or a cooking night or something that brings people together and has them enjoying one another’s company without rushing around in this break-neck-speed Life. Weiking actually mentioned having a Lord of the Rings movie marathon as a very hygge-esque thing to do and I pretty much exploded with Joy and happiness and all the giddy feelings reading his words 🙈
In a way, I feel as if the Most High has created me to be a lover of hygge in every sense of the word. Autumn is my all-time favourite season and Winter is running a close second. Dim lighting and candles speak to my soul because of what I mentioned in my post about INFJs and over-stimulation. Cozy clothing comprises pretty much my entire closet and I struggle in the Summer months because I own like one pair of shorts and an assortment of T-shirts which can’t be worn in public because they’re so sub-par haha I’ve also struggled at times to see the beauty in the Summer heat-waves and humidity The Most High has grown me sooo much in this area and I carry less bitterness in my heart towards this season than I did before. I love Summer sunsets and all the green which just complements the blue sky so well! I still don’t enjoy the heat really at all but I appreciate the season’s beauty more than I used to 🙂
Coffee is my thing, hot or iced or cold-brewed (which I recently discovered and embraced whole-heartedly haha), and I’m seeking to educate myself on how it’s made and where to purchase good, healthy coffee. Books, window-seats, blankets, fire-places, and rain have always held a special place in my soul and they’re practically the very definition of hygge! And my introversion just lends itself to hygge-esque tendencies anyway 😂
The hardest part about hygge, I think, is getting people together. Something’s always going on. Work holds us captive during the week and then the weekends are packed with chores, errands, and other life-responsibilities. It seems like the last thing anyone has time for is “getting together”. And then when we do get together, we’re thinking of what awaits us at home. The to-do list. The dishes. The thing around the house that needs fixing. Whatever it is. Or we need an agenda for our get-togethers. What’s the order of events? Are we playing games? Watching a movie? Having a Bible study? In short, will the time together be productive? Will it be worth my while to attend? What else could I be doing instead? What other “pressing” matter could I be addressing? Will the hours I spend at this event be time wasted when I could have been (fill in the blank)?
It’s funny to me how, whenever we are invited to an event, we always have to “check our calendars”, like our lives are just so chock-full of important things that we have to pencil-in a time to hangout or go over someone’s house. I’m speaking to myself as much as to anyone else reading this ’cause I do the same thing. I don’t like spontaneity so I write things in my calendar all the time to keep me on track. But I was speaking with a friend earlier this year and she was saying how one of her goals for 2019 was to be governed less by her calendar and more by her friendships and family. Instead of having to plan for every little event or get-together, she wanted to have the freedom to relax and let the events happen. Her words spoke to me deeply. Spontaneity isn’t always a bad thing 🙂
We’ve lost the art of hygge. The art of being still and enjoying the little delights right around us. Of getting together with friends simply to enjoy their company. Of resting not only our bodies but our minds and souls. Of spending concentrated time alone with the Most High and His Word. We need time to breathe, lovely humans. We can’t keep running around like maniacs, touting how busy we are, and expect to be truly happy or at peace. Using busyness to numb whatever hard truths you’re trying to avoid will only destroy you in the end. We’re not actually that busy. We’ve made ourselves busy and then we act like we can’t help it. Okay, I know, I know, some people really do have full schedules (i.e. moms and others with demanding work lives) but most of us don’t need to be as busy as we are.
So try a little hygge this Summer or even later this year in Autumn and Winter. You just might find your soul breathing again 🙂
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. also he has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that the Most High does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labour–it is the gift of the Most High.” | Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 |
Link to a stellar article about why hygge should be a part of the Christian life!
If these images aren’t the very definition of hygge in visual form, I don’t know what are 🙂
| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❤ |