In The Moment How to Hygge

by Stacy Suaya | March 30, 2023

You know the warm, comfortable feeling you get from stepping into a pair of fuzzy slippers or sitting around a candlelit table with close friends?

That’s hygge (pronounced hue-gah), the Danish word that translates to a feeling of utter contentment. According to Danish anthropologist Jeppe Trolle Linnet, Ph.D., any time you feel an immediate sense of pleasure in a particular social or physical situation, you're experiencing hygge. Or as Bronte Aurell, author of “Scandikitchen: The Essence of Hygge,” suggests, it simply means appreciating the moment you’re in, while you’re in it.

Bringing more of that contentment into your environment and daily activities can improve your life — and it’s quick and easy to do. Try these money moves and styling strategies to level-up your hygge year-round.

How to hygge at home

Warm, textural elements (like plush blankets) and soft, glowy lighting are key, says Rocky Walls, the filmmaker behind the 2018 documentary “Finding Hygge”; he avoids bulbs labeled “daylight” or “blue.” Beyond this, it’s also important that each room in your house reflects what you love and enjoy, says Alexandra Gove, co-owner of Hygge Life, a home design store in Vail, CO.

Warm, textural elements and soft, glowy lighting are key.
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For her, that means decorative pieces that spark memories, soothing paint shades and natural materials like wood, plants or glass. Pay attention to furniture arrangements too, Gove suggests. In the living room, set up seating in a way that encourages conversation rather than facing a TV, for example.

Hygge in the kitchen or dining area can be as simple as adding a cushy rug or tossing a sheepskin throw over a bench or chairs, or even just cooking and sharing meals together. Keep step stools in the kitchen so your kids can help you, Linnet suggests, and consider setting aside time on a weekend, like Walls does, to make a slowly simmering soup or stew.

How to hygge financially

At its core, the concept of hygge is all about mindfulness, and as that relates to your finances, it's about being aware of and taking stock of what you have and what you truly need. One way to do this is to purposefully declutter from time to time, says Tove Maren Stakkestad, a Danish-American mother of four in Seattle, WA. Think critically about the items in your space.  For example, "You may even be able to sell your old baseball card collection that just collected dust,” Stakkestad says. "Take that money and set it aside for a specific goal."

a man and a woman walk in the snow with a beam of sunlight coming through the trees

Get into the habit of stopping and thinking before you make a purchase too, says Walls, who advises first asking yourself, “Am I investing in my well-being and adding value to my life?” You can also practice being more strategic with your spending. "Shop for a deal, wait for a sale, collect enough credit card points — whatever it is, enjoy the process,” Stakkestad says. “In the end, you'll appreciate your purchase more."

Another hygge tenet is to value experiences and emotional connections over “things.” One of Aurell’s most hygge-centric moments last year was hanging out in a tent with her two kids, eating potato chips, listening to the rain and talking about life, she says. “It was magical and free.”

Shop for a deal, wait for a sale, collect enough credit card points — whatever it is, enjoy the process.
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For Stakkestad, hygge came from a childhood pact she made with her dad: They had a map and vowed to walk down every street in their Denmark town. During their strolls along every single path and alleyway, she would tell her dad about school and friends; in turn, he would tell her about his own teenage years and life in America. He passed away more than a decade ago and, says Stakkestad, “to this day, I remember the hygge moments we shared and am so thankful that we both took the time for each other.”


— With additional reporting from Life and Money by Citi editors

young woman with brown hair snuggles under a thick pink chunky knitted blanket
Stacy Suaya

recently savored two hours making lasagna and a fruit tart — and another hour enjoying it with a friend. The Los Angeles-based writer’s work has appeared in The New York Times Styles, The New York Times T Magazine, Los Angeles Times, C Magazine and Robb Report.