The tables are set and the food is cooked. It’s Thanksgiving. You are home, wherever that may be. Yet, as you look around, ask yourself, “Am I counting blessings or comparing complaints?” Do you find yourself in a season of thankfulness or discontentment?
Going through the motions is how a lot of people glide through the holidays, not taking the time to embrace or think about their emotions.
Because the holidays may be a time where emotions are extreme, some people feel extremely loved and surrounded by family during the holidays, but others experience loneliness and grief. Memories of lost loved ones or divisions among families can set the stage for hurt.
In an article for Wanderlust, Helen Avery talks about a Danish word, “hygge” (pronounced “hyooguh.”)
She defines it as roughly meaning “a deep sense of place and well-being; a feeling of friendship, warmth, contentment, and peace with your immediate surroundings. It’s an integral part of Danish life, and it mostly happens in colder weather.”
A Danish American once said that this word was not meant to be translated, but instead meant to be felt.
As the air cools, and seasonal depression rates in the Midwest skyrocket, we can make hygge a mindset for ourselves and the people around us.
In order to truly live out this hygge mindset, an idea is to focus on being intentional about making other people feel loved rather than what you are feeling at that moment.
Psychology Today describes this phenomenon as a “direct correlation with overall well-being and giving our time, money or other resources to a cause that we are passionate about. Studies suggest that people who volunteer report better health and more happiness than people who do not volunteer.”
Hygge can include giving your resources, but it can also be curling up on the couch with hot chocolate and a good book. It is home-cooked meals with family. It is a fire in the fireplace and a cozy blanket. It is found in being content and embracing the now.
When you are thankful for your life and what you have, giving to others and serving them comes easier and comes from the right headspace.
Some ways to consciously choose to be thankful this season are:
Embrace the change: Despite how different the holidays will look this year, try to see this as a time of growth, and look for ways to enjoy the changes. Notice the differences and look for the good parts of them.
Look for ways to focus on others: Hand-deliver a note to a neighbor or send a far-away relative a letter.
Show you are thankful in tangible ways: Be willing to help with the dishes after a meal. Make a meal for a neighbor.
Start a gratitude journal: Make a list of three things each day for what you are thankful for in order to remind yourself of the blessings in your life.
By not only counting your blessings, but trying to be a blessing this holiday season, you will not just create a space for hygge, you will make space for others to be able to embrace the sacred gift of encouragement: that is a truly a happy Thanksgiving!