More

5 ways gemütlichkeit could help us find more unhurried happiness in our lives.

It's time to take this cozy, unhurried social acceptance vibe seriously.

5 ways gemütlichkeit could help us find more unhurried happiness in our lives.
True
Airbnb

Sometimes you can learn a lot from a word whose meaning you can never truly know. Gemütlichkeit is one such word.

Why does a word matter so much? Well, this is one of those words that encompasses the perfect mix of feelings we all want — and need — to experience. (More on that in a minute.)


I first heard of gemütlichkeit when I was visiting a friend in Austria. It's pronounced in the neighborhood of "geh-mioot-lee-kite" — and you can listen to a native speaker pronounce it if you really wanna get serious.

It's kind of undefinable.

Merriam-Webster describes it as "friendliness and cordiality."

But it's more than that.

German blogger Constanze describes it: "A soft chair in a coffee shop might be considered 'cosy'. But sit in that chair surrounded by close friends and a hot cup of tea, while soft music plays in the background, and that sort of scene is what you'd call gemütlich."

My favorite attempt at a definition is one floating online from definitions.net:

While I was visiting my pal in Austria, I had her point out each time gemütlichkeit was happening.

I realized, I've been feeling gemütlichkeit my whole life, but I'd been taking it for granted. Because ... no word!


Me (on the right) having a VERY gemütlichkeit moment on the banks of the Mississippi River at a Blues Festival. Gemütlichkeit is all around us!

Gemütlichkeit is a very specific vibe. Like the difference between a house and a home, like drinking cider and singing songs with friends around a fireplace while it snows, like a chill beer garden on a sunny afternoon.

"... a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry. "

Now I had the word, gemütlichkeit, and with it, great power ... to take cozy, unhurried social acceptance seriously.

Here are five ways you can, too!

There are real, valid, and applicable reasons that it's so awesome to discover gemütlichkeit in your life (and not just because it's a fun word).

1. Social isolation is a real thing.

Loneliness is real. And it's a bummer! Gemütlichkeit is about cultivating environments where people can get closer to each other, in person! With modern life and modern technology bringing us further and further from each other in real life...

Social isolation cat needs a pet. And some human contact! Image by Justin Dolske/Flickr.

...being kinda intentional about in-person closeness and social acceptance is a good thing.

And, according to Sherry Turkel, author of "Alone Together," a book about technology, modern life, and isolation, "We use conversations with each other to learn how to have conversations with ourselves."

So by being in a place of social acceptance and cozy, cozy friendship, we're actually building skills to be better to ourselves. Neat, huh?

2. By naming this vibe, we can cultivate it!

This is perhaps the most simple, but the most profound. Not all who wander are lost, but it helps to know the name of what you're looking for if you're looking for it.

Gemütlichkeit doesn't just happen — you can make it happen!

Does a body (and soul) good. Image by jeffreyw/Flickr.

It's like when you finally figure out the best ingredients for a certain soup. Yeah, you could probably make the soup again without knowing that and if you kinda tried, but knowing and naming those ingredients means you're owning it! You can recreate the soup!

3. Instead of singing about "The Bare Necessities" in the German translation of "The Jungle Book," Baloo the bear sang about gemütlichkeit.

Here's a quick review of the bare necessities, aka mother natures recipes ... i.e., Baloo the bear knew about gemütlichkeit all along!

Disney. You are deep!

I'm not going to go into an academic comparison of the two languages as it pertains to "The Jungle Book" song lyrics. But I am going to think it's cool how much "The Bare Necessities" actually captures the cozy, neighborly, humanness of a hug vibe that IS gemütlichkeit.

A gemütliHUG from Baloo and Mowgli. <3 GIF from Disney's "The Jungle Book."

4. You can't get gemütlichkeit in a drive-thru or a quick checkout line.

One of the things I like most about the concept of gemütlichkeit is its emphasis on being unhurried. According to a Pew Research study in 2006, nearly a quarter of Americans feel rushed. Not a good feeling.

There's no such thing as hurried, drive-thru gemütlichkeit.


Image by Taber Andrew Bain/Flickr (altered).

You can't get it in a hurry.

You can get it after an unhurried marathon hangout sesh with your best buds for hours, though. Maybe you also sing the gemütlichkeit drinking song. Maybe you don't.

GIF via Silvia Albert/YouTube

But you can't rush gemütlichkeit. Does this mean that a quarter of Americans don't get to feel the cozy, unhurried social acceptance that is gemütlichkeit? Maybe.

Maybe they like feeling rushed and that they don't have enough time in the day. But on the off-chance that they don't, it's nice to know that the everyday, rushed person can seek to cultivate some more gemütlichkeit in their lives and maybe feel a little better.

5. Other countries also have a word for it! (So it must be good.)

Hygge is basically Danish gemütlichkeit, and gemytlig in Swedish has a similar meaning as well.

This is the first thing that came up when I searched for gemytlig. Cosy, friendship, drinks, unhurried, chill vibes. Looks about right. Image by Patrik Neckman/Flickr.

There's even an Ikea moose named gemytlig. And a city in Wisconsin has a three-day festival each year called Gemütlichkeit Days to celebrate German culture.

Cool word, huh?

It's not easy to be a modern person — there are so many things that separate us ... both exciting things (opportunity! random hot air balloons!) and obnoxious things (emails! people who take three hours to text you back!).

I'm sharing this little tale of a meaningful, untranslatable word in the hopes that knowing about this kooky word gives someone the excuse to reach out to someone else and feel a little less alone and a little more close.

We all need that.

Happy gemütlichkeit-ing!

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

Working parents have always had the challenge of juggling career and kids. But during the pandemic, that juggling act feels like a full-on, three-ring circus performance, complete with clowns and rings of fire and flying elephants.

With millions of kids doing virtual learning, our routines and home lives have taken a dramatic shift. Some parents are trying to navigate working from home at the same time, some are trying to figure out who's going to watch over their kids while they work outside the home, and some are scrambling to find a new job because theirs got eliminated due to the pandemic. In addition to the logistical challenges, parents also have to deal with the emotional ups and downs of their kids, who are also dealing with an uncertain and altered reality, while also managing their own existential dread.

It's a whole freaking lot right now, honestly.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Photo courtesy of Lily Read

Now more than ever, teachers are America's unsung heroes. They are taking on the overwhelming task of not only educating our children but finding creative and effective ways to do it in an unpredictable virtual learning environment.

Lily Read and Justin Bernard, two Massachusetts educators from one of the most diverse public high schools in the U.S. (over 25 different languages are spoken in the student body!), feel ready to meet the challenges of this unprecedented school year. Their goal: find ways to make virtual education "as joyful as possible" to help support teenagers during quarantine.

"Our school is very economically, racially, and linguistically diverse," said Read, "which means meeting the needs for all those students is incredibly complex." That wide range of diversity means that they spend a lot of time in professional development, preparing to meet students where they are. This summer, educators in their district spent weeks learning everything from how to provide emotional and social support via virtual platforms, to meeting 504 plans and Individual Educational Plans for disabled students virtually, to mastering the various online programs necessary for instruction.

Bernard, now in his fifth year of teaching, also coaches the high school football team. Prior to the pandemic, there were clear expectations for student athletes, with clear goals and incentives to keep their grades up. Now, Bernard is concerned that student athletes will begin to fall through the cracks without the structure of physically going to school each day, and he is on a mission to do everything he can to keep that from happening.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less