Hygge Fika and Lagom: Simple words for a perfectly balanced lifestyle

I received the Little Book of Hygge, Danish Secrets to Happy Living

Although my brother gave it to me at Christmas, I just had the opportunity to sit down with this book a few weeks ago and as Marie Kondo would be so proud to hear me say, it sparked joy!

I finally had a word for my favorite feeling of coziness.


Pronounced "hoo-gah" and roughly translated means "coziness", but it's way more than that.

It's a way of living. The Danes strive for a hygge life as a way to combat the long cold and dark winters. 

If you gravitate to Pinterest and Instagram pictures of candles, knit blankets, and soft cashmere sweaters you crave a little hygge in your life.

I've always known this is what I gravitate towards but didn't have a name for it. Thank god for the Danes! Now that I know it's an actual word I feel as if I can actively seek out hygge moments in my life.

It's much more than having a cozy house, although that's essential. When I walk into a friends home that oozes warmth, easy to sit on furniture, loads of books, and the pefect Diana Krall soundtrack in the background I know we're going to be friends for life.

Warm dinners with friends over bottles of wine, candles and hip music is a guaranteed recipe for hygge. A girls weekend with coffee in the morning in your PJ's bingeing on Big Little Lies: hygge. 

An armchair, your favorite Ugg slippers, a breakfast nook: as the Danes would say, "that's so hygge".

Oprah coined the phrase, Live Your Best Life, and I'm on a quest to do just that.

Therefore I wondered what other words were out there that I could intentionally add to my daily routine. 

Just thinking about them makes my heart feel more content. Maybe they will do the same for you.

Fika: The Art of The Coffee Break

This one seems easy to add into my daily life, but in order to do it the right way it needs to be an actual break from what I'm doing. For me that means reading a gasp! ACTUAL BOOK. 

I mostly listen to books, about one a week, but as I've been off  FaceBook just in the past two days, I have found I have more time to do just this.

I gather that you're also supposed to have a baked good with it in order to really create fika, but let's face it, fika gonna get me fat. So, I'm just gonna make it a tea or kombucha break. Also, sadly, I do not like coffee. 

I know...so NOT fika.  

Lagom: The Swedish word for not too little, not too much

Ooh. Doesn't that sound...well...just perfect? This is what I strive for. A perfectly balanced day with a little bit of news, a bit of reading, and the perfect amount of writing. Mixed in there I'd like an hour of exercise where I work hard but not too the point of making myself sick. 

I love to have some "community" on my plate. Laughing with friends in my dance classes. Maybe a coffee date with two of my girlfriends, or just a phone call catching up with a close but long distant friend. But not too much. And only with someone I really like. 

Behind all of this is a balanced happy life called Lykke

Yep, the Danes have a name for that too! I mean I guess we say "happy life" but that doesn't seem quite as smart does it? 

Lykke is a way of life. Just like you practice yoga, you practice Lykke.

Being a girl that likes concrete ideas that lead to action this word is perfect for what I'm currently trying to do with my life.

Lykke is said to have six key factors that span the globe in terms of happiness level.

Togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness.

That's really it isn't it? Going beyond this is getting too complicated. If these basic needs are met we know that the rest will come. Or maybe it won't. Perhaps there is no "rest". 

Or if there is a "rest of my life" I'm not sure I'll care because I'll be living my best lykke.

That my friends is deep. You might call it so hygge, lol.

There's only one thing I would add to those six.

I would like to add honesty. I have made that a core tenant of what I'm trying to strive for. I feel so much more whole when I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not.

I guess what I'm saying is it's easy to fake lykke and to make others think you're in it. That's what social media is about. It seems that anything in excess could push you over the edge and into unhappiness. 

Too much eating, drinking, talking, too many friends, too much worrying about what others think, or boasting about ourselves, can all push us into another land that's out of sync and before you know it, you've tricked yourself and find yourself out of lykke.

We've seen that happen with too much togetherness, too much money, too much boasting. We all know a ton of people with boatloads of money who are miserable. 

The recipe is not complicated.

A dash of hygge mixed with a moment of fika and balanced out with lagom creates lagom. Simple.

And at the end of all that you top off the day with the Italian's "La Passeggiata": The art of taking a walk in the evening.

Oh my gosh, I want to go on a trip now. But instead I'll curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. 

Happy hyggeing!




Wanting other peoples things and Project 333

Whenever I go into someone's house I usually think, "god I'd love that table.

It's so rustic. It looks so cozy and inviting. I bet they have a ton of dinner parties with cool hip friends, drinking wine for hours and chit chatting about important stuff. I'd really want that table."

Don't you?

I think things like, "Wow, there house is so much smaller than mine but somehow it's just that much hipper, chic plus they've got this cool edgy vibe that I think I would be so much better off with."

If there is anything that makes me unhappy it is pining after other peoples things.

It's not so much the longing for someone else's life. I like my life. It's more about hating the feeling of wanting something I can't have. It makes me uncomfortable and I spend way to much time on it.

Still I truly believe that if I had that white pottery barn couch that basically it would feel like I'm living in a house on Nantucket. What?! I've never even BEEN to Nantucket, so f*ckit! 

Except no, I could really see myself in Nantucket. I have a very clear picture you guys. I'm wearing white skinny jeans and my blue and white striped shirt. Very nautical, very Kennedy family. You see it right? Yeah, me too. 

I really really want that white couch. This is not even close to a rational thought because my daughter would ruin that couch in under five seconds. She's gross. Cute, but gross.

Basically I'm upset because "Waahhh, I don't have that" and I'm upset because "Waaahhh, I hate myself for thinking this way." And lastly because "Waaahhh, I have so much and I'm obviously a selfish bitch."

I also think, "I'm 41 years old and continue to have this problem year after year, decade after decade and jesus this is exhausting."

I'm mean people in Puerto Rico are STILL living without electricity for f*cks sake. What am I COMPLAINING ABOUT?!?!?!?!?

Okay calm down. Me. I'm saying that to me, not you.

Or maybe you.

Because most everyone I know has this problem even if they don't care to admit it. I'm talking to you guy who's like "Yeah, I don't consider myself materialistic" but has four Ipads, Apple TV, and a new Macbook pro. Yeah, you.

I would like to say life would be so much easier if we had more money but, um we DO have more money than we ever had five years ago, seven years ago, ten and fifteen years ago. Lots more.

We are rich. Not like Tesla rich. But like we live in Silicon Valley rich. If you can afford to live in a comfortable house here you're rich. 

We just continue to set the bar higher and higher wanting more and more.

This drives me f*cking crazy. 

And to be honest, I don't know how to get over it. I really don't. Because in the end, it's not rational and I know that.

If you're some genius let me know, but in the meantime while I'm working on this human dilemma l will give a few nuggets of what I DO know.

  • I know that I don't REALLY want to make more money. If I did I would go out and get a regular job. Instead I place a higher value on my time, health, and emotional well being. Currently being at home with less work is something my body needs. I could always go out and get a job, make another company, charge for another service. I can talk my way into most anything. I obviously do not value that idea enough to do that.
  • My husband's values are similar and in the end I'm grateful. He has a "normal" job (meaning he's not an artist like me) but doesn't want to climb the corporate latter so fast that he misses out on his life or us. Being able to take a lunch time bike ride for him is much more inline with our values than making 25K more. Plus he gets to see us. We are only here once on this earth after all.
  • I believe that most of the time I'm coveting what I perceive as peoples relationship to money. They seem to know how to handle it. They're more grown up than me. They did something right. I didn't. 
  • I know that patience would be one of the keys to my success. Instead I make rash decisions that result in overbuying and overabundance of sh*t I don't really need. 

Even though I don't have a clear answer to this problem that a lot of us seem to be facing I believe in taking action. I'm setting out on a series of experiments to see what helps me have control over my thoughts rather than letting an unrealistic "perception of others" shape them for me.

Here's what I'm going to try first. Project 333.

Project 333 is the brain child of Courtney Carver. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which caused her to re-evaluate her life's priorities. She has a big story and went through a huge transformation but the biggest takeaway for me right now is my closet. 

Here's the challenge she puts forward. 

For three months you can have 33 articles of clothing. That includes accessories, purses AND shoes. Total. WTF?!

You can change out your 33 articles each season.

The good news for me. Workout clothing doesn't count! Great for me since I workout about 5 days a week and I am a super sweaty person. Like grossly sweaty.

Although, if I'm really being honest I will need to pair that down to only 10 items as well. I've got a sh*t ton of Lululemon.

In addition, leisure wear (around the house lounge stuff), underwear, socks, and pajamas don't count toward the 33. BUT, even there if I'm REALLY being honest with myself I basically wear leisure wear ALL of the time so I'll be sorting those out as well.

I'm going to start here.

  1. One BIG pass at getting rid of 1/4 of my clothes and donating. I'll be pretty good at that I think. I've got a lot that I don't wear and I don't have a hard time parting with stuff. Mainly because I just buy more stuff.
  2. Do inventory of what I wear all the time. Hold it up, Marie Kondo the sh*t out of it. Does it give me joy??? I LOVE THIS BOOK, read it.
  3. Decide whether or not these articles of clothing will hold up washing for the next three months and if I need to replace I will use the gift cards I have.
  4. Box up all the rest and put in the garage.
  5. See if I notice what is gone.

Eek. I'm scared. Are you scared for me?! I figure what's the worse that can happen?

I don't know. I can't really think of anything that bad other than the emotional attachment I feel towards my clothes. 

I can feel an emotional charge well up inside of me when I think of not buying any clothes for the next three months. It kind of makes me want to throw up.

And you know what that makes me think? I'm on the right track.

Care to join me on 333? Let's do this!