Like many parents of young kids, I struggle to be present in the moment. I’m listening to a story about school with half an ear while scrolling Twitter; I’m eating dinner while checking email; I’m letting myself become saturated in the news or work instead of focusing on the now, even if that “now” involves chicken nuggets on the floor or a dispute over pajamas. I’m only partially there, my throat tightening and my heart pounding all the while. There’s always something pressing, something else to do, some low-grade anxiety hovering at the edge of my consciousness like a menacing cloud.
Recently, a friend posted (yes, on Facebook) about the Danish concept of “hygge,” translated as “coziness” or “living in the moment.”
“It’s about spending quality, peaceful time in a calm environment with no agenda. It’s about humor, warmth and making connections. It’s about spending time alone and spending time with family. And it vanishes the moment your to-do list gets involved,” the PBS article explains.
Heading into the Thanksgiving weekend, that connectivity sounds pretty good, no matter what your background or beliefs.
So, in order to spend more time really focusing on my own family, I’m challenging myself to detach from the Internet throughout Thanksgiving day to practice “hygge.”
I know, I know: a day! Pfft! But when your phone is like an appendage (and I think many of us can relate), a day is a long time. I’d originally planned to unplug for four days, but I realized I was setting the bar a bit high. The anxiety of wondering what I was “missing,” whether it was news or a friend’s latest baby picture, would probably cause me more stress than totally unplugging in the first place.
But a day? A day just to focus on my family on Thanksgiving? That should be doable, right? And hardly a punishment.
Yet I was thinking of it as a sacrifice. It’s probably a bit sad that so much external noise has become such a part of our daily lives that unplugging has to be a goal, like running a mile or waking up an hour earlier. But there it is.
So I’m reframing it as a short, manageable break. A brief reprieve from looking outside myself and my own immediate circle for reassurance, gratification, distraction and engagement. A pause to focus on my husband, my kids, my own day-to-day, (relatively) manageable life.
Such a small thing, with so many positive results. I’ll actually be able to play a game of Uno with my son. I’ll be able to feed my infant without scrolling Facebook with my other hand. I’ll be able to have a conversation with my husband by looking at his face, not at Instagram.
Is it any wonder that Denmark was ranked as the world’s happiest country according to the U.N. World Happiness Report?
This weekend, I’m going to try to think like one of them. I’m going to stop and take time to be thankful for the people around me, the ones who make up the true fabric of myself.
I think it’s a worthy goal, no matter what your background. Wish me luck.