Happy 2017! Are you one to make a long list of New Year’s resolutions? Quite often, resolutions are focused on diet or an exercise regimen, or making more money. In this New Year, I would like to encourage you to take a step back and consider a different kind of resolution: a revolution from within.
What does this mean? Over the past year, I’ve been researching the power of happiness in Denmark. Ranked in the top three for happiest country and people many years in a row, the Danes practice a daily ritual called hygge (hoo-ga), which roughly translates to “cozying around.” They create a time in their day to relax; lighting candles is very common. By allowing some quiet “me” time, those who practice hygge develop a feeling that they have their lives in control and have plenty of time. Hygge can also be with people you love. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting around a table with friends or family, discussing the big and small things in life.
In contrast, here in the U.S., our pace of life is different—we feel the need to constantly quantify and qualify everything we do. Many of us feel guilty just doing nothing. But it’s nearly impossible to get absolutely everything on your list done, so instead, why not take a step back, incorporate some hygge into your daily life, and give yourself permission to get done what really matters.
Research has shown that people who tend to be the most productive, balanced and happy are the ones who cultivate a daily practice of “cognitive emptying” (similar to hygge), when the brain and mind let go of half the stuff that’s in there. Our minds are so full of clutter from running from one thing to the next, we rarely take time to allow our brains to empty out so that we can focus on what we really care about.
So instead of coming up with a list of 20 resolutions for 2017, take a moment to step away and practice a moment of hygge. By doing nothing, you may realize that from that list of 20 items there are three or four things that you truly care about accomplishing. As you shorten your list, you will realize that you have time to get done what really matters. And the more you practice hygge, the more other people in your life—family and friends—will be drawn to it and start practicing, too.
Dr. James Rouse has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. He is an inspirational speaker, personal coach, author and cofounder of Skoop, a line of powdered superfoods.