Hygge, Anyone?

Hygge is a Dutch word that means getting together with friends, or maybe with a good book (books are friends, right?) for the purpose of taking rat-race break. When we indulge in hygge, we enjoy the company of others (in person or print) while simultaneously nourishing and replenishing our spirit.

I’ve got a spot of hygge planned for this evening.

As I do almost every Sunday, I’m having friends over. We’ll dine together, then watch an episode (or two) of whatever serial T.V. show we’re working our way through. Right now, it’s Nurse Jackie.

While we always meet at my house, we rotate chow duty. It’s my turn this week, so I’m making Asian salad, chicken, green beans and quinoa. We’ll have some ice cream – with salted caramel sauce – too.  I schedule my weekly “feast,” which means I eat dessert, on Hygge day. As it’s a weekly, not daily, indulgence, I enjoy it with no guilt whatsoever.

Guilt would screw up hygge in a hurry.

It’s cold and snowy out, but the prospect of spending time with people who understand and like me (and vice-versa) is warming. Hygge, after all, is never a duty call. Hygge is me time. I wouldn’t think of sharing it with someone who can be counted on to stress me, namely one of the several emotional vampires (E.V.s) with whom I’m acquainted.

There are a number of E.V. species. Do any in this sample sound familiar?

The Debby Downer – Is rarely cheerful. Q: “How are you?’ A: “Oh, OK… I guess.”

The Ain’t it awful artist – Believes the sky is falling. Always has a dire prediction or gloomy observation about somebody or something.

The Dream Crusher – Pessimistic, and not shy about sharing. “Oh, that won’t work. That’s a dumb idea.”

The Grenade – Irritable. You never know when s/he’s going to blow up in your face.

Whenever possible, E.V.s are to be avoided. They’ll drain your joy and spirit…and they’ll stress you.

One of the keys to having a good life is surrounding yourself with positive, life-affirming people. A raft of research suggests who we hang with socially has a big influence on our quality of life. Emotions are contagious. When in the company of someone who is depressed, or negative about life, your mood plummets. When in the presence of an angry outburst type, you feel wound up, too, waiting for the bomb to go off. Worse, when it finally does, your stress level goes through the roof.

Today may be snowy and overcast, but here’s a bit-o-San Francisco beauty upon which to gaze: