The translation of the Swedish word lagom is ‘not too much nor too little’, or, in other words, ‘just right’. While it might sound like a concept everyone can understand, the fact is that we are all different and that, consequently, we all have different definitions of this term.
If you are looking for inspiration to change your lifestyle, check out Lagom, the lifestyle trend from Sweden. You can use it to make your life happier and more balanced.
Lola Akinmade-Åkerström, a Stockholm based writer and photographer, describes lagom as ‘optimal’ in her new book ‘Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well’ which she wrote in an attempt to explain this Swedish principle to people around the world.
Balance Is Key
The primary goal of Scandinavian people is to live a balanced life in every possible way. That includes the balance between work and personal life, eating and exercising, material and spiritual.
To make it simpler, you need to stop being strict with yourself. For example, you might be following a specific diet and hitting the gym five times a week. Although this is great for your overall health and body image, it might hurt your soul by depriving it of that piece of cake you are so desperately craving.
The same goes for work and time spent with family and friends or, more importantly, yourself. In this material world, we are always in a rush, trying to achieve more — more money, a bigger house, a better car, you name it.
This constant rush for success can drain us and lead to exhaustion and health problems. In the end, even when we accomplish everything we’ve set our minds to, we won’t be able to enjoy it the way we are supposed to.
Give Yourself a Break
It’s Monday morning, and as you enter your office. Your desk is already piled up with tasks, all of which are equally important. Usually, being buried in work makes you think you cannot afford any time-wasting activities such as a coffee break with colleagues or a short stretching routine, and you forget that your brain is not a robot and that it needs a vent to work properly.
A study done at the University of Illinois recommends that ‘even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods’. The research behind it claims that we are not capable of being focused on one task for an extended period of time and perform at the same level.
This is exactly what lagom states as well. Swedish people have a word fika pausto describe a break with some coffee and a little treat that helps their brains rewind and get into a creative mood for the remaining part of the day.
Minimalism Is Your Friend
In Sweden, minimalism doesn’t even mean there is less of anything. They think of minimalism as of enough in every sense and see no point in accumulating unnecessary things in their homes and life in general.
This is the reason why lagom suggests that you only buy things you use and often need when it comes to your clothes and other material things. Adopting minimalism means experiencing less stress when choosing what to wear and having less work on days when you need to clean your home.
Apart from minimalism in the material sense, you can apply this to other life aspects. Particularly regarding people you decide to spend time with. Instead of trying to stay in touch with too many people just so you could see someone whenever you feel bored, surround yourself with true friends. This will make your free time much more valuable, as you will spend it indulging in meaningful conversations instead of time-consuming gossiping.
If all of this sounds like a lot to change in one day, try implementing these new routines one by one to see how they work for you. For those who would like to find out more, try reading one of the books that cover lagomin detail. Finally, to make it work for you, do not forget that there is no strict rule here. It is up to you to find your definition of ‘optimal’.