Despite their cold, dark winters, Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries on the planet. Largely due to the importance of hygge (pronouced hoo-gah), or a sense of togetherness, Danes cultivate an atmosphere of coziness that revolves around being with loved ones. This social bonding provides warmth and comfort that’s able to combat the gloom and melancholy associated with shorter daylight hours.

By emphasizing simple pleasures, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying simple habits like a hot mug of coffee, Denmark is far ahead on the path to well-rounded and happy lives. It’s time we take a page out of their book, and create more hygge for ourselves. An easy way to introduce this concept to your social gatherings, is to put the cell phones away and simply focus on one another. Having good conversations, truly listening to each other without any distractions, and participating in small pleasures like a shared meal is a great place to start.

It’s also a good argument for rejecting the unrestrained consumerism now associated with the holidays. Crucial to the concept of hygge, is its simplicity and basic pleasures. It’s not about “things” — it’s just about shared experiences. Maybe instead of stressing about the perfect presents, we should focus on spending time with one another. Those Saturday afternoons, spent shopping for presents at the mall, could be reserved for some well-deserved family time instead.

After all, what really makes people happy isn’t more unnecessary gadgets, clothes, or housewares. It’s being with the people you care about. Isn’t that the best part about this time of year? It’s a time we come together in joy, to celebrate each other’s company. Another tip is to light some candles, or cozy up underneath a warm blanket in front of the crackling fire. The point is to cherish one another in a relaxed setting, and promote a sense of community.

Finding happiness in the day-to-day, or “ordinary” aspects of life, can help you to fully embrace the hygge spirit. Mindfulness and being present, even in small tasks — the opposite of multi-tasking — are key to this way of life. It’s important to make time to relax and recharge, and even enjoy doing nothing. Promoting simple living and loving, healthy relationships will lead to calmness and well-being. Treating not only each other, but also yourself, with kindness and generosity is the beauty of hygge.

Many of us would say we start to feel something similar to hygge around this time of year, with the holiday season rituals and more quality time spent with loved ones. Perhaps the lesson we should learn, then, is that we have the ability to extend this happiness throughout the year. So — why don’t we? Let’s embrace hygge for 2017, and see just how happy we can be.

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