The Hygge Effect

Like so many things in life, perspective and attitude can really create entirely different experiences from one person to the next. Yes, social media can definitely waste your time and bring you down, but it can also connect you with amazing folks that you're soon calling soul sisters and kindred spirits. Emily from The Cozy Nordic and I connected over an Instagram message about just simply "getting" the like life, and I've been loving all her content ever since. Today, she gives us a look into how the lake plays into her family's hygge lifestlye in Minnesota...

So, what the heck is “hygge” and how do you pronounce it?  Hygge, pronounced like “hue-guh”, is basically the Danish concept of being cozy.  This is nothing new.  We all know how to cozy up around a campfire, share a bottle of wine and great conversation, or snuggle up with a book on a rainy afternoon.  Now, we just have a name for it and we can thank the Danes for turning it into a “thing”.  It’s currently sweeping across the globe and coming to your vocabulary next.  So, get ready!

 How To Hygge The Nordic Secrets to a happy life book

I first discovered hygge in a book I read a couple years ago called “A Year of Living Danishly”, by Helen Russell and I’ve been mindful of it ever since.  My motto has become “Live Like a Dane. Eat Like a Viking”.  

Don’t make an assumption that all things hygge only happen in winter when fireplaces and candlelight come to mind.  Lazy summer days at the lake are a perfect time for hygge moments, too.  How about those hot days when you climb out of the lake shivering and are suddenly comforted by a warm towel?  That’s hygge.  How about sitting on the dock with toes in the water and the sun warming your shoulders as you chat with friends?  That’s hygge. And, we can’t forget watching the sunset, cocktail in hand, after a dinner prepared on the grill. That’s so hygge!

My favorite hygge destination is our little cabin on the Gull Lake Chain near Nisswa, MN.  When I fling open the door, take my first deep breath and view of the lake whatever stress is bunched up in my shoulders melts away.  

 Cabin on Gull Lake Chain Nisswa Minnesota interior
 Cabin exterior on Gull Lake Chain Nisswa Minnesota

Our cabin is small (800 sq. feet on a good day) and seasonal.  I call it our cozy Scandinavian cabin after the little summer houses that dot the countryside of Sweden and Norway.  The simplicity makes it rich.  Nothing fancy, yet oh so hygge.  

 Two lawn chairs on beach during sunset over a lake in Minnesota Gull Lakes Chain

Life is easy here.  Life slows down.  Time isn’t of importance.  Days often start with a brisk morning bike ride on the Paul Bunyan Trail or a run while coffee brews at the cabin. Other mornings I paddle board along the shoreline lost in thoughts as I observe wildlife around me.  Afternoons full of fresh air and sunshine are like any other on the lake.  Boat rides in search of the perfect water for skiing or wakeboarding balanced with slow rides through the channels and, for a treat, we may pull up for lunch at a lakeside restaurant.  

One hygge family activity at the lake we embraced this summer was painting.  We gather around the patio table and each person takes a small canvas.  Imaginations are free to run wild and we connect over conversation, not technology.  Afterwards, the kids love to find the perfect spot inside to show off their artistic ability.

We shut down the cabin recently as evening temperatures continue to dip lower and lower. Walks along trails littered with brightly colored leaves helps us mentally recharge and a good excuse to get out those flannels!  We built campfires, raked leaves, made chili and shared a few beers with neighbors to close out our cozy cabin season.  

These are a few of my favorite hygge moments at the lake.  They carry us through the darkest days of winter as we anticipate spring when the lake welcomes us back once again.  I hope you have cherished moments to ponder and embrace hygge in your life.  It’s not fancy, doesn’t require expensive clothes or a lot of money, and that’s the beauty of it.

Gull Lake Chain

  • 2 hours north of Minneapolis, MN
  • 11,000 acres including a half dozen lakes connected by channels
  • Numerous restaurants and resorts to choose from - our favorites include Bar Harbor, Zorbaz, Sherwood Forest, The Classic at Madden’s, and Grand View Lodge

Nearby town: Nisswa, MN

  • Population 2,000
  • Popular shopping and biking destination
  • Favorite stores include Zaisers, Stonehouse Coffee, Gull Dam Brewery, Martin’s Sports, Rafferty’s Pizza, The Chocolate Ox and many more!
  • Known for Wednesday afternoon Turtle Races for the kiddos
  • Frequent weekend themed festivities all year round
  • Beautiful golf courses in the lakes area for all levels