Lagom is a Swedish and Norwegian term, which roughly translates to “not too little, not too much – just right“. Literally “the right amount”, lagom invites to sobriety, fundamental to lead a moderate life, appreciating the right measure and avoiding any excess.
Many may, of course, turn their noses up. Why settle when I can aim high? The concept of lagom, however, is more complex and, just like the danish hygge, is a bit complex to translate.
While hygge implies doing something (such as creating a cozy atmosphere), lagom – though always with a positive meaning – is almost the opposite. It indicates anything done with sobriety and the refusal of any exuberance or exaggeration: from clothing to public statements, including home decor. Swedes do not like excesses and gratuitous showiness.
For example, if someone at the table asks: “How much food do you want?”, the Swedish answer will be “lagom”, that is neither too much nor too little, but the right amount to satisfy one’s hunger. The same goes for entertainment, work, clothes and home furnishings.
Beware though, this does not mean being easily pleased. It means living a simple life, and being happy with little, without extravagance and vices. This is well explained in the book “Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well“, by Lola Akerström. A photographer and journalist director of the travel site Slow Travel Stockholm, Akerström claims that lagom is the secret to a lifestyle marked by social awareness, moderation and sustainability.
But this – she points out – does not mean aiming to be perfect, on the contrary: we must find the optimal solution, the most harmonious wavelength according to which we can behave. The measure of lagom is different for each of us. A lagom life is lived peacefully, without being anxious to stand out and without the need to conform too much to social norms.
Do you want to try it too? Then here are 5 tricks to make your life a little more lagom.
Learn To Say No
One of the ways to be lagom is learning to say “no”, to delegate and do fewer tasks. Before answering yes to a suggestion, let’s actually consider whether it is something needful. In this way we will avoid any unnecessary tasks wasting precious time, which we could maybe use for ourselves.
Saying no is also a sign of honesty about your abilities. And above all, let’s try to leave our work at the office. In what way? By deactivating notifications and activating the answering machine. This applies at work but in your personal life as well. Taking a break and dedicating time for ourselves, allows us to slow down and be alone with our thoughts, a rarity in the noisy world we live in today.
When you have a conversation with a Swede you will notice that he rarely interrupts or starts talking to anyone else. Voice is kept to even tones, and pauses in conversation are completely acceptable. For us, staying silent is often regarded as awkward. We are so worried about gaps in conversation that we are constantly overlapping before people have completed their sentences.
Swedes may feel a bit uncomfortable as well in such silent moments, but rather than desperately filling in the gap, they prefer to sigh or alternatively whisper a “hmmm”. This gives them time to think about something meaningful in order to contribute to the conversation.
Once we get into a slower rhythm, we will find that it is much more relaxing to talk without fear of interruption. And we may just learn some new and fascinating things about the person we’re talking to.
Create a capsule wardrobe
The Swedish closet could be likened to a “capsule closet”. Minimalist and very practical, it’s a closet made by getting rid of unwanted or unused clothing and replacing it with a limited number of beloved and highly versatile items that can eventually be worn as a set.
A capsule wardrobe makes it easy to choose an outfit, eliminates the stress of deciding what to wear, and allows you to spend much less time and energy on shopping and laundry. It’s also cheaper, and those who try it say it makes them feel happier.
Furnish your home with simplicity
Swedish design has long since had a huge impact on interior design around the world, just think of the Ikea brand. In furniture, the concept of lagom translates into simplicity, natural resources and harmony. The rooms are devoid of futile items and everything is organized in a functional and logical way.
The furniture is characterized by clean lines and are chosen according to their durability and practicality. The materials consistent with the lagom philosophy are those of natural origin. One of the cornerstones of this lifestyle is, in fact, respect for the environment.
Do not waste money
The lagom does not ask us to be stingy, but to keep an eye on our money and have a clear idea of how much we spend, so as to indulge a few whims and live in a balanced way. In short, we should avoid superfluous and unnecessary purchases. In this way, in fact, we could always put something aside especially for difficult times so as not to find ourselves completely dry.
Saving a little money every month and putting it aside relieves stress, worries and guilt. Not only that. According to Swedes, cutting back on some expenses creates the opportunity for more meaningful and valuable experiences.