Practicing Presence

38757693-c349-48f4-80d8-a9abd16a2312Like most people that I know, I spend a ridiculous amount of time in my life in front of a screen. Whether it be typing reports, doing online banking, reading about fantasy football, watching Netflix at home or some “light scrolling” before bed. Whatever I do my phone is in my pocket. Technology has become another appendage that I use to connect with the world, which as I write that makes me feel a little pathetic.

Reflecting on the fact that more than ever I am more connected to what Donald Trump last tweeted, every breaking news story and what is happening with the all my favorite sports teams. I am also aware that it can come at the cost of being disconnected from the people and experiences that matter most to me.

Parenting has taught me a lot (and I have so much more to learn) and the learning that I continue to come back to is that time is elusive. I now have a 1 year old and man it has flown by. The early days of parenthood feel like distant memories and the weeks all seem to blur together. I have noticed this thought at several points throughout my foray into parenthood and it has really highlighted the importance of trying to fully enjoy each experience with my daughter.

This brings me to Hygge (pronounced Hooga), my partner is an avid reader and she put me on to the concept of Hygge from the book “the Danish Way of Parenting”. Apparently the Dane’s know a thing or two about happiness and parenting (who knew?). Although there is no literal translation the best we have in English is being cozy together. However that does little to capture the power of the word. For me what most stands out about Hygge is the intentionality of the practice.

Hygge is the combination of intentionally setting time to be together as well as the mood and attitude (felt sense) that you bring to that time.  When you practice Hygge there is a shift from focusing on the needs of the self to a focus on the group. There is also a shift from focusing on the tasks and worries of life, to being fully-present in that moment.

For me, Hygge is about setting aside time to laugh, play and enjoy the company of my most beloved friends and family. In our home, Hygge looks like a variety of things: sharing meals and chatting around the dinner table, dance parties, bike rides, reading books, playing chase, singing songs, and playing with toys.

After Hygge, I never find myself saying: “man I really wish I was binge watching an episode of (insert whatever mindless Netflix show I am watching at the time) instead, or feeling more sad about the state of the world. Practicing the discipline of Hygge (knowingly or not) has led to some of the most funny, memorable and sacred moments in my relationship with my daughter, my partner and our friends and family. These are the memories that stay fresh in my mind and bring me joy even during the busiest days and sleepless nights.

Steps to practice Hygge from the author’s of the Danish way of parenting:

  • Light candles/get comfy: Set the mood
  • Work as a team: As a family choose the activities
  • Be Yourself: Let your guard down
  • Put down your phone! (Turn off technology)
  • Think “we” not “I”
  • No complaining!


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