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.

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!

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less
Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less

"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

Keep Reading Show less