takk, hygge and the baader-meinhof phenomenon

It's not exactly easy getting an in-focus picture of kitty Takk,  especially  around yarn, but he wanted to show off how hygge he could be.

It's not exactly easy getting an in-focus picture of kitty Takk, especially around yarn, but he wanted to show off how hygge he could be.

Takk? Hygge?? Baa..whaaaat??? 

Are you still with me? 

I know it’s not good practice to use words that are obscure or difficult to pronounce in a headline. (Check and check!) It’s my first blog post, and I am already teetering on the edge of losing everyone’s attention span before I even get started. But - if you’re still reading - allow me to clarify.

Phenomenon worth talking about

Working backwards in that list, let’s start with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. There has been something cropping up everywhere I turn my attention these days. It's an experience that has happened to me before, and I know I'm not the only one, so I figured it had a name. Because I didn’t know the 'scientific' name for what I consider to be a metaphysical experience, I Googled it. I think my exact query was, “scientific theory of noticing more of what is in your mind.” Sounds pretty deep, right? Somehow Google understood what I was trying to articulate and thousands of articles popped up instantly. (What did people do before the Internet?)

The best way to describe this supernatural/scientifically-proven occurrence is with an example. Let’s say you hear about something or see something for the first time, and then in the following days and weeks you hear about that very thing or see that very thing several more times. Basically you go from not knowing anything about that one thing to having it pop up repeatedly. It kinda feels like the universe is sending you messages, doesn’t it? (Well, that’s what I like to think at least.) For those who lean more toward scientific explanations, it’s actually a type of ‘frequency illusion’ or ‘recency illusion,’ termed the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Here’s what science.howstuffworks.com has to say about it: “This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up constantly. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone and their cousin are talking about the subject - or that it is swiftly surrounding you. And you’re not crazy; you are totally seeing it more. But the thing is, of course, that’s because you’re noticing it more.” (And, probably because the universe is sending you messages about it, right?) 

Hygge in the House

That, dear readers, is what brings me to hygge (pronounced HUE-GUH and eternally wanting to be autocorrected to ‘higgle’ - ya, like THAT’s a word!!). Hygge is my memo from the cosmos, my frequency illusion, my Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. I have seen that word pop up in news articles, mass emails, and even in the rules for a recent contest. It seemed only fitting to blog about it. So here we are. 

Hygge is a Danish word that, in the English language, is best described as 'coziness.' The word was a finalist in the 2016 word of the year contest from Oxford Dictionary, who defines it as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” That definition makes me smile, and invariably, trying to pronounce the word makes me laugh, but that’s a different phenomenon. 

Hygge and winter have a special relationship. Let’s face it, the Danes know about wintertime. From Denmark’s geographical location, winter is a dark, cold, long, and sometimes harsh season. But, because Danes are some of the happiest people on the planet, they make lemonade with their lemons. The result is hygge. 

Think crackling fireplaces, steaming cups of coffee and tea, thick warm blankets, intimate gatherings of friends and family, cuddling with your fur friend - all of these things breathe hygge. The quality of hygge puts an enjoyable, almost anticipatory spin on winter, doesn’t it? (Winter and I have not historically been friends, so this is pretty big for me to even write about.) For me this winter, instead of getting cabin-fever over having to stay inside, I’ve relished in the extra time to devote to a knitting project. And then when I’ve absolutely had to go out into the chill, I’ve been able to wear that fabulous knitting project! Hygge has definitely brought about some unprecedented gratitude for me this season.

Tic Takk Toe

In a roundabout way, this brings us to the final word, that first word of the headline. Takk is Icelandic for ‘thanks.’ It also happens to be the name of our kitty, who, as his name would have it, reminds us to be grateful each day. Ever since he came into our world this past summer, he has brought daily love, cheer, laughter and joy to our lives. And let me tell you, Takk lives the hyggiest lifestyle out there. (Totally a word. That I just made up.) From the way he can curl up into a little ball and fall asleep under the duvet unaware of the busyness around him - to how he burrows himself into the pile of clean laundry fresh out of the dryer ensuring they stay warm even longer - to his approach of stretching out in a giant body yawn atop his woolen blanket gazing idly around the room - to his manner of looking out the sunny window, intently yet contently from his cozy perch - and especially to his inclination of sauntering up to me to give sweet nose kisses, despite us both getting a little static shock from the dry air - these habits of his demonstrate an enviable, peaceful satisfaction with the world around him from which we glean appreciation. (Although at four in the morning, it’s a completely different story as he runs around the house wrangling with his toys and dragging them all into our bedroom, at which point he prances on our bodies until we wake up to play/pet/feed him. But that’s all cats. Isn’t it?)

This year the winter hasn’t been all that bad, weather-wise. We’ve had mild temperatures amidst some cold snaps. Yesterday, the high was 72, and this weekend there’s a 90% chance of snow. I can’t really complain because this winter has been our first with Takk in our home. He has reminded us to enjoy the simple pleasures, and laugh everyday regardless of what the weather is doing. It has also been the first winter that I’ve been privy to the meaning of hygge, which has sparked newfound seasonal gratitude and inspiration in my heart. Staying cozy in bed in the morning to stitch a few rows of a knitting project has been a welcome winter practice. And being able to wear said knit pieces out into the frosty temps has been a delightful outcome of my morning ritual. When I put it like that, I’m almost going to miss the winter days once they finally bid adieu in the coming weeks. (Almost.)

As winter makes its final laps around North America, don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeing or hearing the words hygge or takk pop up. If that turns out to be the case, you’re welcome. Allow them to be your messages from the universe, scientifically proven by Baader and Meinhof. Afterall, aren’t coziness and appreciation two things that could use a little more frequency in our world? We can all share a little gratitude, find some contentment, and create them both - in every season.