What brought you to read more about hygge? Did you hear about the enchanting Scandinavian spas, or get lured in by the cozy aesthetic? Maybe you read an article about it and were intoxicated by the idea of living the life that ambiance stores keep trying to sell to you. One of perfectly tailored decor, amazing food, and great friends. Hygge can help you use those things to enjoy life more, but it’s important to remember that hygge is not about material things. This point will be elaborated on later in more detail.
I have found hygge through a somewhat tumultuous experience of navigating bouts of anxiety and depression, as well as grappling with the everyday challenges, joys and awes of life in general – all its twists, turns and forks in the road. Whatever has led you here, whether you’re looking for a new perspective, struggling through a tough time, or are simply bored and looking for a book to read at the airport, I sincerely hope that reading this post is a positive experience in your life.
It may seem a bit tough to figure out where to get started. So you can feel like we’ve made a bit of progress, let’s start with your reading habits. Where are you right now? Did you find a quiet space somewhere you like? Your favorite coffee shop? A cozy reading spot you’ve created in your home? If you have cultivated a nice place for reading, and are using it – congratulations! You’re already embracing hygge right now. You might also be reading this somewhere that isn’t your favorite – on your commute home on a crowded bus, perhaps. As long as you are using this post to improve an otherwise dull moment, you’re on the right track. Some people with hectic jobs and busy home lives love their train commutes and embrace them as a time to read, nap, or just have some peace. Training yourself to look for the positive aspects in any situation is a great way to start practicing hygge.
As I write at this moment, I’ve created my own quiet hygge writing time. I’m sitting on my comfortable couch in the living room, I’ve lit a lovely scented candle, and I’m playing music by my current favorite composer – Message to Bears. It’s a warm summer evening and my window is open; there’s a light breeze blowing through my open window, nudging my curtains lazily back and forth. I’m sipping Jasmine tea, and my big white dog is asleep at my feet. I’m working, but I’m taking the time to enjoy the moment as much as I can. I’m making an effort to see value in the fact that I have time to spend devoted to something I love to do.
The Commercialization of hygge
As it’s been commandeered for commercial use, peoples’ understanding of hygge has been vulnerable to distortion. Hygge is a particularly attractive concept to use in lifestyle marketing, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we wanted to talk about it a bit because the explosion of hygge references in the commercial sphere has created the potential for people to focus too heavily on material things, and miss out on the real essence of hygge. This posts will get into how to leverage décor and cozy sweaters to your hygge advantage, but first, we wanted to talk a bit about how it’s being used to sell these things so you can avoid going overboard on trying to buy your way into hygge.
So what is lifestyle marketing?
Lifestyle marketing is a style of advertising that companies use to sell a product or service as something that will enhance your social status. This style of marketing associates its product/service to a desirable mood – like happiness, and/or social statuses, such as success or youthfulness, to unconsciously make you associate that product/service with that mood/social status. For example, when a beer company runs advertisements featuring groups of young people having fun and camping or partying while consuming their product, that’s a form of lifestyle marketing. The goal is to sell you on the potential experiences you could have with the product to sell you on it.
A particularly sneaky method of lifestyle marketing involves brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors are real people who will post something on social media involving product like a piece of clothing or jewelry, or a service such as a meal at a restaurant or yoga class. They’re usually an actual person out in the community who has established themselves as an influential presence. For example, a brand that sells yoga pants may find a yoga instructor who is active on social media and ask them to post a photo of themselves wearing the pants in exchange for money or free products. Lifestyle marketing boils down to advertisements used to make you think your life will be more in line with your ideal vision of it if you buy that product or service.
So what does all of this have to do with hygge?
Hygge itself, as we’ve discussed, isn’t a tangible thing you can buy. It’s associated with moods, like a feeling of content-ness, warmth and peace, and social experiences such as enjoying time with loved ones. Now that we know lifestyle marketing focuses on how an ad makes you feel, you can see how the desirable emotions and experience associated with hygge make it a perfect target for lifestyle marketing. Companies can connect it to all kinds of products and services – candles, blankets, cozy clothes, spa getaways, home décor; anything that can be framed as something that could help you incorporate hygge into your life could be easily sold with lifestyle marketing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with marketing, but take note that if you try to understand hygge through ads disguised as blog posts, you’ll miss out on what hygge is about – connection, love, and warmth – nothing that can be bought in a store.
Not just a lifestyle trend
As I mentioned before, if you search hygge online, you’ll find a lot of articles using it to sell something, but you’ll also find a few referring to hygge having a moment or being the latest lifestyle trend. A trend is opposite of what hygge is; it’s been around for centuries, and just because the internet didn’t know about it until recently doesn’t mean it’s a passing trend or something you can only benefit from while it’s in fashion. It was around long before lifestyle bloggers were a thing and will be around long after.
Hygge gained quite a bit of popularity in the last few years, however, these references to trendiness and the frantic doting it has received are not what hygge is all about. This discussion of its popularity creates a sense of urgency and feeling that you’re missing out if you don’t incorporate it into your life RIGHT NOW. Read: if you don’t buy all the hygge things right now. Mentioning it at all when it’s connected to a product or service is an effort to sell that product or service, and mentioning its current popularity is to give you that sense of urgency that you have to buy NOW. And guess what? A year or two from now, maybe even already, you’ll find articles about why the next lifestyle trend is the new hygge and why everyone is abandoning hygge in favor of this new thing that, surprise, surprise, requires you to buy a whole lotta’ new stuff. And on and on. Wait for the articles titled why we’re over hygge and this new thing is the thing you should obsess over.
Don’t worry if you’ve fallen for it in the past, we get it – it’s so tempting to believe those promises. Just, from now on don’t buy it. I’m here to remind you what Douglas Adams told us all back in the 1970s. DON’T PANIC. If you try to keep up with it because it’s a trend, this will give you the exact opposite effect that you could enjoy if you practice hygge the way it was meant to be practiced.
A quick note that this post isn’t meant to attack marketing practices or capitalism in general. The only point we’re making when we warn the reader against those using hygge to sell products and services is that hygge is a practice connected to an intangible feeling that you’ll only be able to get from inside yourself. You can enhance your experience with some material items, but hygge comes from inside you; you can’t buy it. It’s easier to buy things than reset your perspective, so it’s tempting to believe that maybe we can. You can’t. We’ll repeat it one more time; you can’t buy hygge.
This post is ordered in the order of importance regarding incorporating hygge into your life. The first section is on mindfulness because before you do anything, you need to make sure you’re in the right headspace. We’re not saying you’re more important than your loved ones, but you need to make sure your mentality is in the right place so you can be the best you can be for your loved ones.
The next section is then, of course, your loved ones. Hygge emphasizes togetherness as one of its key components, and improving relationships with your loved ones will bring you the most joy and comfort. After that…