My family and I were sitting around the dinner table after Christmas, talking about the future. Where would we go when we retire one day? Where would my millennial children live and work? (The oldest embarked on her career about a year ago. The other two are in college.) Would my husband and I be near them? We talked about which states were best to retire in, which had the best economy for each of our children’s career paths. As our discussion continued, we began to talk about other countries – we knew Italy, Costa Rica, and Japan had the highest longevity. Then we decided to find out which countries were actually the happiest. In our search, we found the United Nations publishes a World Happiness Report where we saw the northern, cold countries were the happiest on earth. How could that be? They were freezing, buried in snow for months, had less daylight, less summer, and some had higher tax rates than we do.
We discovered they were happy due to their healthcare systems and other government and political interventions, but they also have a profound sense of community and social well-being built up over centuries of living in a harsh environment. They care for one another, working as communities to make sure everyone is okay. They have created a way of life – taking what some would consider difficult and turning it around to find the best in it. It is called “Hygge” (pronounced ˈHEW-gə ’ or ‘HOO-gə ’). “Hygge” is the Scandinavian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. Itactually is the art of taking what may be negative in your life, looking at it positively instead and seeing the good within it.
Look at your shoes, are they worn and not flashy? Are you embarrassed? Shine them up and instead, be proud and think, “Look where they have taken me and where I can still go in them!” Instead of thinking “my car is old and beat up; I wish I had a new Mercedes,” look at your car and think how smart you are; how much money you kept in your pocket instead of doling out thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money to the dealership or bank! Lovingly, clean up your car. (I named my 12-year old car Bessie. Bessie has taken my children, their friends, my husband, and me on many adventures and through many experiences!).
This is such a great concept for all of us; myself, my family, friends, clients, associates, all Americans! Just think how we can save money by appreciating what we have and using small things to make us feel good. We don’t need brand new cars, big homes, brand name clothing, high-cost phone and cable services, high tech gear, expensive meals and nights out!
We can all appreciate what we have and look at our possessions lovingly, see friends more often, do volunteer work, and seek to adopt the art of “Hygge” living to be more comfortable! After all, studies show it isn’t more money that makes us happy, it is not being stressed about our money that makes us happy! Saving money does increase our endorphins! It’s never too late to start!
I wanted to start the art of “Hygge” in my home. For Christmas, one of my kids gave me a salt lamp (of course, using a coupon from a big-box store). I keep it lit in the living room. It glows a warm yellow-orange all the time and contributes to our good mood! I took out old blankets and put them on all the sofas. I left the Christmas lights up a little longer this year. My husband made Chicken Cacciatore, an Italian “hunter’s” stew with chicken thighs. It was an inexpensive, heartwarming family meal that meant more than any restaurant dinner.
I put links to “Hygge” below for you, in case you would like to research for yourself and start the “Hygge” way of living! Invite your friends over for a candlelit dinner instead of going out and spending $100 at a bar. Create warm cozy nooks in your home and play board games or read while drinking hot cocoa. Make a ritual out of making your favorite tea or coffee in a cherished cup instead of spending $5.00 on a latte.
I say hooray for “Hygge”!
May I suggest you start the art of “Hygge” too and let me know if it brought you more happiness and ways to save!
With Best Wishes of Warmth and Coziness,
Guest Contributor: Paula Mucci, AFC®, Financial Coach – CFPB Financial Coaching Program Contractor – Armed Forces Services Corporation, Workforce New York Career Center