Taking Off the Mask & Make Time for Hygge


Phantom MaskI attended a performance of The Phantom of the Opera over the Christmas holidays and was struck with the image of the Phantom and his mask. As I watched, I caught myself thinking, “Am I wearing a mask? How many other people are doing the same?”

Is there a part of yourself, your behavior, your persona, the way you interact with others that you use as a mask to conceal the real you? Granted, there are times that keeping things to ourselves is best to remain socially acceptable, corporately astute, socially mobile, and engaging just as there are times to be open (and revealing),. Here are some of my thoughts on distinguishing when we should put aside the mask (or our public persona):

  • When something or someone truly matters
  • When a relationship matters
  • During collaborative and/or serious business planning
  • In a mentoring environment
  • In counseling 🙂 . . . however that is defined and engaged
  • In the development of “Marble Jar”

Note: The “marble jar” is something I learned from reading Brené Brown’s work. Marble jar friends are great, intimate friends we trust, share our secrets with, and really care about each other without judgment.


And of course, there are those times you do not want your “thought bubble” to be visible to others at least not until you’ve had a chance (a “5-minute pause,” perhaps) to properly formulate your thoughts before they are laid bare.

Fitting in Versus Belonging Isn’t it true that life calls on us to be true to ourselves and not try too hard to “fit in” but, rather, belong? I used to think these were the same—however, I’ve discovered there is absolutely a difference, and based on the situation they both may be appropriate!



“Fitting in” or “belonging” is, in part, analogous to whether or not you wear or remove your mask.

Have you ever found yourself masking who you really are in order to fit in with others? Do you suppose this has ever caused others to wonder who you really are, what you stand for, what guides your soul?

Conversely, in my opinion, to “belong” is to be accepted for who we are: People know us and feel that we are true and real, it is apparent to others what our guiding light is, what we believe and maybe more importantly what we do not believe. There is meaningfulness in conversations that include transparency as to your beliefs, that helps define who you are. I realize it is not critical to agree with everyone on everything. In fact, it’s healthy to have your own thoughts and beliefs as long as you can embrace the “art of disagreement” (something I wrote about in a previous Rambling) and disagree appropriately (what may be appropriate in one setting may not be in another).

The lesson for me, coming out of seeing The Phantom of the Opera, and reflecting on the types of masks we may wear, is centered around being ourselves and comfortable in accepting who we are. In fact, I have come to realize that knowing and accepting who we are is more fun, more meaningful, and more critical to building strong relationships than any mask we can wear.

Embrace the Hygge Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to take this Rambling in a different direction. Do you know what hygge is? According to Wikipedia, it’s “the Scandinavian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” It’s an approach to the cold and bleak long winter days (not necessarily limited to winter). Originated by the Danish, it’s pronounced “hoo-guh.” Hygge is a quality of coziness, comfort, warmth, and well-being, not just with others but with yourself. It’s nurturing joy (not just happiness!). Think of it as spending a snowy evening snugly nestled in an overstuffed lounger chair, by a flickering fireplace, wearing Nordic (ethnicity not required) slipper socks, wrapped in a fluffy fleece-lined blanket, with a nice glass of wine, a really good book, your favorite music playing softly and/or with that someone special having a great fun, flirty, meaningful, and honest conversation.

As we start a new year, make 2018 wonderful and meaningful! Try to make it a point to find time for hygge and removing the mask!


One thought on “Taking Off the Mask & Make Time for Hygge

  1. Nice Bob.

    I wish that many of the orally fixated politicians, and pundits (who seem mostly progressives) would wear a mask — “to conceal the real (them).”

    Conversely most of my friends on the right wear a mask because they know that to confront these people is a waste of effort.

    Lowell Anderson



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