Wednesday, December 11, 2019

American Cozy: Hygge-Inspired Ways to Create Comfort & Happiness by Stephanie Pedersen

I've been curious about the idea of hygge--a Danish way of being that puts creating and living a comfortable, cozy life at the top of your priority list. This may seem very simplistic, and it is, mostly. What's not simple is wrapping your brain around it and changing your life enough that you feel pretty hygge all the time. And just for your reference, it's pronounced "hoo-gah".  I've found myself saying it over and over lately, in order to retrain my brain to think the pronunciation correctly and stop it from thinking "hi-gee".  

The author, Stephanie Pedersen, takes hygge and adds an American spin on it. I haven't read any other hygge books, so I can't say how different, if at all, it is regarding the Danish practice of hygge. But I think I can say with a lot of confidence that Americans seem terribly busy, busy, busy and distracted. We seem to constantly be scrambling to get things done, and are so busy cramming our days with so much, we're always tired, worn out, stressed, and frazzled. So what to do about it?

There's nothing in this little book that is mind altering, or radical. It's about being organized, having a plan, keeping things simple, and taking the time to chill out--even if it's just for ten minutes walking around the office building to stretch your legs. It's about leaving work at work, and committing to not looking at work emails after you've left the office. Saying no instead of always saying yes. Picking a few things you really enjoy doing, instead of trying to do it all, and being miserable. For me, it's about decluttering both at work and at home. I dread cleaning my house. I love a clean house, with everything in its place, but honestly, I'd rather read a book than clean. My house always has a slightly disheveled look about it--definitely lived in by a bookaholic. Reading American Cozy has given me thought about how that clutter grows and can become overwhelming, and really stifle my ability to function at full speed. 

Yes, a lot of hygge is about minimalism. Part of the clutter is about thinking we need to have a bunch of stuff, when we don't. While I didn't learn anything I didn't already know after finishing this book, it did remind me of how easy it would be to eliminate the clutter, get my butt into a routine to keep my house tidy, and to curb my mindless social media checking (this takes up waaaay too much time!) each day. So for me, setting up routines and taking the time to do bits and pieces every day--and committing to that--will go a long way towards establishing my own kind of hygge. 

I have made some changes in my life in the last 6 months that have helped me feel less overwhelmed, and I've mostly kept to them each day: setting up my coffee pot each night and programming it to start each morning; having my workout gear ready to go and my recovery drink mixed and in the fridge, so all I have to do it grab it and go. Having my gym bag packed each night with my water bottle (I can't live without it at the gym!). I've also worked on food prepping each weekend--grocery shopping and preparing breakfasts and food for lunches during the week, and having a pretty good plan for suppers. Those small changes, oh--they have made a huge difference. I make better food choices because I've got my meals ready, I'm not rushing around in the morning and forgetting things, and I walk in the door after working out and smell fresh coffee ready for me. 

So, for me, I did enjoy this book very much. It didn't teach me anything new, but reminded me of what I need to do in order to have a better balance in my life, and how to lessen my stress by not waiting to tackle housework or other chores until they are BIG and take too long to do. I've already decided to spend some time in January picking away at areas of my home that need some serious  decluttering and organization. I'm excited to start. 

This would make a great gift for anyone who is interested in living a bit more minimalistic, or is just tired of the clutter and needs some inspiration. It really is all the little things we can do to help us focus on being in the moment, enjoying the company of friends and family, and not wearing ourselves out with long, unproductive work days. Get your hygge on, people! 

Rating:  4/6 for a how-to on making your life an oasis of calm and relaxation. It's not about more time, but about using the time we have more efficiently, and more purposefully to achieve hygge in our lives. You can do it! 

Available in hardcover and ebook. 

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