Hygge and happiness

One of yesterday's On Point topics was the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced sort of like HOO-ga), which is getting international attention as a possible explanation for why Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world.

Hygge connotes coziness, togetherness, comfort, warmth, and ease. Picture a group of good friends relaxing around a fireplace on a snowy evening, with warm socks and warm drinks, enjoying the simple pleasure of each other's company, and you've essentially conjured the feeling. 

It's nice, right?

What makes it special in Denmark is that they have a word for that experience. They focus on it, and actively create opportunities for it in their lives.

Perhaps any human being could enjoy hygge, but it's a happiness practice that they are especially good at because it's built into their language, their traditions, and social fabric.

There was a side comment during the program that the Danes value hygge in much the way that we Americans value freedom, which I thought was fascinating.

In the United States we think about freedom, talk about freedom, and aspire to experience self-determination and self-expression in all areas of our lives. While any human being might be able to enjoy that sense of freedom, cultivating it is a happiness practice that we Americans are especially good at it.

It makes me wonder what other happiness practices are out there in different cultures and subcultures. What do other people take for granted as essential to their quality of life, that I might not have thought about before? Are there happiness practices unique just to your particular family or community?

If anything comes to mind, please share!