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Well-Being Is Hygge

The Danish word, "hygge" defies precise translation in English-- even for television copy writers, who resort to images of places. or moments that one might best describe as "cozy" in a very personal, deeply connected way. Think: Cuddling with kids, fireplaces ablaze during a snowstorm, warm socks and sharing comfort food with the family. You get the idea.

However we translate the word "hygge", it is definitely not something that money can buy. According to Meik Wiking (author of, The Little Book of Hygge, " Danes are aware of the decoupling between wealth and well-being". Being a Dane himself, he should know whereof he speaks.

And Meik's statement got me thinking. Is hygge antithetical to wealth? Being American, I don't know for sure, but I doubt it. One can be wealthy and still find hygge in his/her life-- I think it is rather the case that wealth is not a requisite of hygge-- ditto re: well-being! So, I think of what Meik is saying as conceptual, not literal.

I think well-being. like hygge, is largely about living in the moment. Feeling completely comfortable in our own bones, and letting go of the hectic world around us-- either alone, or in the company of others. A good run or workout can do that. And mindfulness and meditation can do that. It's something of a syllogism: Well-being is hygge, and mindfulness/meditation is hygge, therefore well-being is mindful and meditative!

I have long thought that mindfulness and meditation are important parts of the well-being pie, but little did I realize how true that really is. As identified in the excellent Report generated by the National Task Force for Lawyer Well-Being, there are several different aspects of well-being, all of which are subsumed in the short-hand syllogism suggested above, and all of which are subsumed in the concept of hygge.

Again, quoting Meik Wiking: "Our language shapes our behavior-- and our behavior shapes our happiness". That may seem simplistic to some, but you know what? It's really true-- so maybe we need to start working the word "hygge" into our conversations more often. It might help us become more well.

The details are, of course, important but nobody could argue with the general proposition that lawyer well-being (not to mention mindfulness and meditation) is hygge!


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