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April 30th, 2021
In Danish and Norwedgian cultures there is a concept called ‘Hygge’, pronounced ‘who-glee’. It refers to the measure of coziness and comfortable conviviality that any given space has. For example, your favourite coffee shop probably has excellent Hygge, while a hospital with it’s sterile, fluorescent environment lacks pretty much any positive measure on this spectrum.
Many cultures outside of Scandinavia could benefit greatly from a consideration of Hygge. North America is certainly one of them. But beyond this, the external world we create probably reflects to a good deal our internal mental world. There is something ironic about considering something like Hygge in the first place is likely indicative of positive mental health.
Many people can notice this on a small individual scale. We often procrastinate by tidying up, but once the tidying is actually done, the mental space as influenced by the actual physical space is a bit more positive. Hygge in terms of the design, layout and ambiance of an entire room or house just takes this to a whole new level.
As an aside, we might wonder how much more benefit the mentally ill would experience if mental institutions were designed to be incredibly cozy, as opposed to something like a hospital or a prison.
But regardless of the physical space where we might find ourselves, applying the concept of Hygge to one’s own mind yields an interesting question: Is it comfortable and cozy to be in your mind? To be in your skin? To be you?
This is a bit like the opposite of anxiety, and it’s interesting that we don’t really have an explicit antonym for anxiety. Is it relaxed? Or happy? Content? Or Fulfilled? All of these are slightly different aspects that are actually quite transient. We can’t feel any of them all the time, and yet there must be some sort of quality of mind the persists across all these transient states. Is that quality a cozy one? Or do you have some redesigning to do?