What Is Hygge Living?

What is Hygge Living? - The Calm Collective

I’ve always been a pretty “cozy” person. Opting for nights in with candles, cozy socks and soft clothing, twinkle lights inside all year round (you guys know this to be true from my last place), and crave warm foods more than cold.. but never did I ever consider myself “hygge”.  That is until I started seeing things popping up left and right on Pinterest, and looked up the definition.

What is Hygge? 

Hygge: pronounced “HUE-gah” (would not have guessed that)

A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)

‘why not follow the Danish example and bring more hygge into your daily life?’

– Websters

a Danish word for a quality of cosiness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.

– Cambridge Dictionary

the Danish word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.

– Wikipedia 

I have to tell you that I smiled ear to ear when I read these definitions. It’s my personality and familiar habitat to a T.  I feel my best when I’m in comfortable clothes, at home with the people that I love, listening to calming music, drinking or eating something warm (vino or chamomile tea), soothing scents like sandalwood and amber, and opting for natural light over artificial, always. (unless again — it’s coming from my twinkle lights ;)  I wasn’t always this way, though.  I really have only come into this natural pattern a couple of years ago.  I think in some ways it’s been embedded in me — I’m not a huge “going out” person.. much more of a homebody and this probably is a direct result of my empathetic nature and taking on other people’s energies fairly easily. It can be exhausting! So time at home and time to really rest and unwind is imperative for my well being.

I think the two biggest things that formed this switch were the death of my dad in 2013, and my breakup back in 2016. The loss of my dad gave me the ability to heal in whatever way I could — it was basically a “survival of the fittest” type of situation, but I was the only one in it. I was either going to sink, or I was going to swim — and in order to swim, I had to be so incredibly honest with myself when it came to what made me feel good, who made me feel good, and making zero apologies for it.  It all started to happen naturally as I started gravitating towards different thought patterns, different textures when it came to my clothes and home decor, what the materials felt like when they were on my skin (so specific, I know), I started saying “no” to plans more often than I would say “yes”, and I slowly but surely started to back away from relationships that weren’t serving me.

When my last relationship was on the cusp of ending, this also gave me the total freedom and the space to get 100% in sync with what it was that I wanted out of my every day, what I needed from others, and to be able to let go of the insecurities and the need to “hide” away from my own personal growth. If you yourself are feeling these things, recognize that they are surefire signs that you are not where you’re meant to be, that you’re not surrounded by who you need to be surrounded by — so pay close attention. If someone is holding you back from your truest self — through judgement, silencing, or mockery — whether they realize it or not, make the necessary shifts to get right. This is your life, love.

So now that we know the definition of Hygge, lets go a little bit more in depth with Hygge Living, shall we?

What is the definition of Hygge living?

Some may say that it’s a sense of style. If you look on Pinterest, you’ll see women cozied up with socks and sweaters surrounded by the chunkiest of knit throws and warm tea.  So it’s easy to think that this in itself is hygge living. Others may say that it revolves around your mindset. How do you feel in your headspace? Are you calm? Centered? Inviting? Or maybe they’d argue that it’s about your actions. Hosting “family” dinners and inviting others into your space to enjoy food and drink.  Saying “no” when you’re invited to do something that doesn’t sit well, choosing the exercises that work best for your body and your soul, etc.

In my opinion, I think Hygge Living embodies all three of these things in perfect synchronicity.

Style, Mindset, Actions. 

If you feel like you’re on the cusp of this lifestyle, or maybe you’re living it and want to turn more into every day patterns, there are so many little things you can do to alter the three areas of this lifestyle.

What is Hygge Living? - The Calm Collective

Hygge Living Tips 


Much like the practice of designing your capsule wardrobe, take everything out of your closet, and set aside colors that don’t align with your soul. Sounds silly, yeah? I know, I know. But you can absolutely comprehend when your mind is like “please don’t dress me in that color” (purple for me) and when your mind is saying “give me everything in that color, please” (tan and marigold). So just try the exercise and see what you gravitate towards.

Once you’ve sorted your colors and know what colors you connect with, try on these items and pay attention to the material. Do they feel good on your skin? Yeah? HOW good? Could you cuddle up and fall asleep in it? That’s always my rule of thumb — could I pass out in this and wake up feeling cozy AF?

If it’s scratchy, let it go.  I really can’t imagine why I’d have to give any more reason other than the fact that it’s.. well.. scratchy.

When purchasing new items, pay mind to your new found color palette and texture preference. This not only lessens your desire to purchase impulsively, but it gives you the opportunity to be more mindful when shopping. Much like when you’re at the grocery store and you’re reading through the ingredients, do the same with clothing. Read the labels. Feel the product. Try it on. Be honest. Just because it’s “trending” doesn’t make it right for you.

Mindfulness, my loves. It belongs in every single category of our lives.


Bouncing off of that last point, paying attention to your mindset when you’re shopping (for anything) is probably the best tip I could give.  Are you emotional? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Are you euphorically happy? Are you stressed?

All of these things can be triggers to lose site of your leveled-out, authentic mindset. Tricky, isn’t it? The sooner you get to know yourself, the sooner you’ll be able to stay so insanely mindful of your own habits you’ll blow your own.. well, mind :)  Because I’ve been doing the work for months now, I can 100% call myself out on my own BS, and do, all the time. I’ll say (sometimes out loud) “WHY are you so emotional about this?” or “What’s REALLY stressing you out?” the first answer that comes to mind is ALWAYS my truth.

Bonus tip: NO ONE ELSE can answer this for you. You and only you. So do the work, get to know the internal parts of you — your thoughts, your triggers, your own human design, and your mindset will be crystal clear.

This will also help when making decisions — which as we all know is (unfortunately) a huge part of adulting. Whether it’s a relationship you want to let go of, one that you’d like to pursue, a purchase you’ve been entertaining (generally on the larger side), or your next business move, having a “hygge-like mindset” will make it so much easier to tune into your intuition and make the best decision for you.


I see this the most in my own life when it comes to working out. For so long, I relied only on cardio for my workout. I thought that if I wanted to see results, both internally and externally, I had to run as fast as I could. I had to sweat my ass off. I had to listen to “pump up jams” and do squats until I couldn’t move my legs.

Wrong. So wrong.

The truth is, while I still do sprints here and there when it feels good, about 90% of the time my body is craving slow resistance training.  It just aligns with my mind and body SO MUCH MORE than cardio ever has. Pilates Reformers (the machines) is my go-to. Nothing makes me happier and feel more meditative, alive and healthy than this exercise. It’s not for everyone — but that’s the point. We’re all so different, so it’s important to go inwards and ask yourself what feels good.

What is Hygge Living? - The Calm Collective

Want a quick, personal story?

When I first moved to Traverse City a couple of months ago, I couldn’t find a Pilates studio that had the machines. This is what my soul wanted, but instead of asking around I was just like “meh, I’ll join the gym here and just do sprints.” So that’s what I was doing for the past two months. 3-4 times a week, I’d wake up and go run with dread.  I WAS MISERABLE. I literally hated every second. Even when I finished I’d be like “yeah that was a good workout,” but my brain was so foggy and just flat. I didn’t have that euphoria that we usually get from cardio.  What the hell?

The other part? I wasn’t really seeing a difference in my body. I’m not at a point where I necessarily want to lose weight, but I for sure thought some tightening and slimming would occur due to the work I was putting in. Nope.

What gives?

About two weeks ago, we were out to dinner for a friends birthday and a woman of mutual friends joined in. We connected and got to talking about life and all those lovely things, and she told me that she owns a Pilates Reformer studio RIGHT DOWN THE STREET FROM ME.  I’m sorry, what? How did I miss that?! It literally didn’t show up on my radar at all during my search, but here I am, going to her studio twice a week, and guess what?

My energy is insanely high when I leave her studio. I feel light, I feel healthy, I feel so euphoric, happy and open.  The other bonus? In just 4 sessions with her, my body is changing dramatically. (I was starting to forget that I had ab muscles)

All of this to say — seek out what feels good to you and your body. Do not believe the things they tell you on the internet, that you need to do HIIT 3 times a week, that you need to run a half marathon, that you need to wake up at 5am and move your body if you want to see real results, that you need to lift weights, that you need to do yoga…

If weight lifting brings you joy and you walk away feeling like your best self, please lift weights.

If yoga &/or pilates brings you clarity and you feel like you’re waling on a cloud when you’re done, please do yoga &/or pilates.

If walking outside in nature makes you feel level headed and euphoric, please walk outside in nature.

The actions you take are what will lead you to the kind of life you want to live. It truly is as simple as that. Social media can make that extremely hard since we have this dirty thing called the “comparison game”. So if you’re someone who falls into that trap on a regular basis (raising my hand here!), it’s probably best if you take a step back and eliminate yourself from the rat race every so often.

Listen to this podcast episode where I talk all about taking action towards happiness.

So where you do fall in line with Hygge living? Does this sound familiar? Or is it something that you’re interested in implementing into your life?  I really do believe that this is something that happens naturally (aside from the style and home decor), so be patient with yourself if you want to make some internal shifts.  As always, here if you need me – x

PS: The Little Book of Hygge Living & How To Take Those First Steps Towards Slow and Mindful Living