Did you know that Sweden is one of the happiest countries in the world? What do they do so differently that it helps them stay happy and satisfied with their lives? The answer is found in one word – lagom.
In this article, I will share with you what lagom is and how we can all implement it into our lives and make it more balanced and meaningful.
What Is Lagom?
Lagom (pronounced “lar-gohm”) is the Swedish philosophy that focuses on finding balance in your everyday life through moderation.
This word can be translated as “Not too little. Not too much. Just right.” In other words, if you focus on having enough but not too much, you create a balanced mindset.
The famous Swedish proverb says “There is virtue in moderation”. And this is the main difference between our american mindset which makes us always seek the next best thing.
Lagom philosophy is the opposite of materialism and consumerism. It focuses on creating a balanced, sustainable lifestyle that welcomes the pleasures of existence rather than those of consumption. This philosophy is very practical and applied to everyday lives – food, clothes, lifestyle, work, etc.
Lagom is all about having only what you need. It is the new minimalism for anyone who wants to live with fewer material possessions but aim to enjoy a more meaningful and happier life.
Don’t they get bored living like this?
Lagom is not a rejection of pleasure, but the ability to indulge in it in a moderate and balanced way. Of course, the Swedes also allow themselves to deviate from the plan. If you’ve ever been to Sweden you know what an incredibly strong coffee they brew! Not to mention punch-rolls, chocolate balls, cinnamon buns that Swedes adore. However, after a little indulgence, they do not punish themselves with strict diets but get back to a moderate and balanced lifestyle.
How to practice lagom?
Now let’s talk about how we can implement lagom into our daily life. As I already mentioned, it can be applied to all areas of life. In this article, I will share with you some ideas on how to do it.
Step 1: Inspect your home
If we try to highlight the area where the Swedes are #1, it is home organizing. Impeccable Sweden style is not overloaded and attracts the eye.
But how did the Swedes manage to create this balance?
They have an innate desire for minimalism and absolutely no desire for hoarding. That’s why there are no boxes in Swedish homes filled with old things like broken phones, a dozen old sweaters, and jeans that we vow to wear one day, old magazines, etc.
Here’s a little clutter test for you. Check the correct statements box:
- You have a box or drawer with the items that you never use.
- It takes you more than five minutes to find the right thing.
- You feel stressed if your friends come to visit you without an invitation because you have to do a big cleaning first.
- You have things that you don’t use or things that you don’t like anymore.
If you have marked more than two points — it’s time to think about how to throw out the excess.
Here are a few tips on how to declutter without stress:
- Don’t try to do it all at once. Take 10 minutes a day to declutter.
- Distribute items in three boxes: keep, give away/donate, and throw away.
- Use the “buy one thing, get rid of one” rule.
- Do not allow the emergence of “hot spots” where junk tends to accumulate.
- Keep your toiletries in a special box.
- Keep all your papers and documents in folders.
Step 2: Infuse your house with lagom
Reduce the number of items
For several months, once a week, remove one item from each room — and very soon you will notice that the energy of your house has improved.
Be mindful of what you buy
If you buy a new item, let it be not only beautiful but also functional and high-quality item. Look for handmade items, visit fairs, and meet new artists and designers. But before you buy anything ask yourself if you really need it or perhaps your home already has everything you need.
Invite nature into your house
Use natural eco-friendly materials in the decor. Get indoor plants. Collect twigs, snags, acorns, pebbles from the beach — all this brings you closer to nature. As you may already know, nature heals and if you invite nature into your house you also infuse it with peaceful and healing energy.
Do not clutter the house
Keep it simple. For each new item, get rid of one old.
Step 3: Be mindful of your food
We, Americans, tend to waste lots of food. It makes us spend more money than you probably should. But if we become more mindful in planning and organizing food we can actually save more money than you may think. And the less money we spend the less stress we have. Here are a few tips on how to be more organized with your food.
Freeze your food
Label the bags of frozen items so that you don’t confuse chili with strawberries.
You can freeze herbs, juice, coconut milk in ice molds.
Freeze overripe bananas so you don’t waste them. You can use them later for making ice cream or smoothies.
Don’t let the vegetables wither
To keep salad leaves and green leafy vegetables fresh longer, wash them, put them in a sealed bag, and put them in the vegetable compartment.
Too much parsley or dill? Finely chop it and freeze it. You can use it for soups and other dishes.
Buy seasonal and local products
Do not use expensive imported ingredients brought from the other side of the planet for preparing your meals. Try to always buy local veggies, berries, and fruit. Find out which fruits and vegetables are in season and try to cook seasonally.
Plan your menu a week in advance
This is a super helpful tip for those who want to reduce the amount of food waste. During the week, prepare simple dishes. Leave new and complex recipes for the weekend, when you have more time. This will also help you to be less stressed about not having enough time.
Step 4: Create a balance between work and personal time
We tend to go from one polarity to another. Today we’re working hard with no breaks and rest, and tomorrow we are so exhausted that have zero motivation even to get up from the bed. Lagom teaches us to create a balance between work and personal time that you can use for hobby, yoga, rest, or other things you like to do during your free time. Here are some tips on how to do it.
Reduce the number of tasks scheduled for the week and weekend
On the weekend, choose one day when you have nothing planned. This is a day for restoring balance, spending time spontaneously, and communicating with your family and friends.
Good rest is the key to efficiency and stress reduction
Try to go to bed on time and get up a little earlier than usual. An extra half hour in the morning will give you a sense of control over time and self-confidence that you are unlikely to be able to experience while doing everything on the run. If it is still dark outside when you get up, light a candle and drink tea from your favorite mug. It will give you a feeling of self-care and the necessary comfort for feeling safe and relaxed.
Step 5: Take care of your health
A healthy body and a balanced mind lead to a happy life and less stress. Lagom gives us some tips on how to take care of our health and be more balanced.
Make your workout easier and don’t overdo it
Everyone should make time for rest, work, and active movement. Find a way to work out in a way that brings real benefits to both body and spirit. Make sure that you actually enjoy your workout time. For example, go for a run alone to clear your mind, or go for a walk with friends to chat. If you feel like lifting weights brings more stress to you than enjoyment, then maybe yoga or cardio exercises will suit you better? Don’t try to copy others. Find your own unique way to work out and enjoy it!
Seek balance, but don’t be obsessed with it
There is no doubt that balance is the key component for our physical and mental health. However, we all need to accept that there can always be a slight imbalance in life. There is no need to feel stressed about it. Each of us, from time to time, has days when we have too much work and it’s hard to find time for quality rest. Sometimes it is impossible to find time for the gym and working out. Don’t feel stressed or guilty about that.
Keep it simple
Use natural cosmetics. Skincare is really simple — healthy food, rest, and fresh air will do almost all the work for you.
Step 6: Spend more time outside in contact with nature
Swedes love to spend time in nature. More than half of Sweden’s territory is covered with forest. Nature is an integral part of Swedes’ life.
The state also strongly supports such leisure. In Sweden, there is a concept called “Allemansrätten” – everyone’s right to access certain public or privately owned land, lakes, and rivers for recreation and exercise. Everyone can freely walk, pick mushrooms and berries, and camp in any place if it does not disturb the peace of others. So, Swedes in any weather go out of town, have picnics, go sailing, etc.
In 2016, the World Wide Fund for Nature conducted a study that found that those who regularly go out to nature feel happier and healthier. Another study also showed that during these “nature time”, we calm down, restore the psyche, and become more creative and peaceful.
Step 7: Don’t get involved into arguments
Try to cultivate peace in every communication you have. Instead of passionately proving your point, try to always find a compromise. If you feel like your opinion is not welcomed, let your opponent keep his/her views, don’t try to change them. Arguments and conflicts lead to stresses, disappointments, and breakups. You can always walk away from the argument and let people have their opinions.
Step 8: Invite celebration into your life
Arrange small celebrations for yourself for your family and friends. In Sweden, there are many traditions that are designed to unite friends, colleagues, and family members. For example, the sacred Swedish Fika ritual – a coffee break with sweets. Its essence is simple: a hot drink, a treat, and communication without haste. Or Fredagsmys – a cozy Friday ritual, when you are gathering with the family, watch a movie, and eat something tasty. It is these small traditions that create unforgettable memories, evoke a smile, and create a feeling of being loved. This atmosphere reduces stress and makes life more enjoyable.
The Bottom Line
You can start practicing lagom by asking yourself, “Is this lagom?”. When you look inside your crowded closet, or when a big portion of food is placed in front of you, or when you consider that second cookie, ask yourself if you really need it, if it is lagom. Constantly, try to build that balance between work and your personal life. Always make sure you find time to do the things you love. Keep track of your spending, consciously reduce your environmental impact on the world, take purposeful breaks from work, spend quality time with family and friends. By bringing lagom into your life you become much happier, more peaceful, and less stressed.