LAGOM came on my radar last year, but it was not until recently that I became aware of its meaning.
Cute coffee table books that don’t appear to have too much substance I would likely have avoided in the past (#judgemental), yet I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Swedish art of balanced living resonated with quite a few of my personal ruminations of the last eighteen months.
If the ethos shared by the two books I read is true to life, there’s something rather grounding in the Swedish philosophy of ‘not too much and not too little’.
‘Just enough’ is possible when life is lived away from extremes.
If you’re thinking Lagom sounds like an endorsement of a ‘beige’ mid-point where we are unable to allow ourselves to let loose now and then, thankfully, it’s not. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t be on board otherwise!
Lagom is a balance scale that knows when to go all out, and when to refrain, when to lean in and when not to.
Refraining doesn’t trump partying no more than upcycling does buying new. One mode is not favoured over the other; the altruistic Jones’s aren’t a standard.
When Hygge became known as ‘a thing’ here in the UK, we were encouraged to don cosy socks, light the fire and eat hearty soup to get our ‘Hygge on’. A Swede could I’m sure do this greater justice, but from my short foray into Lagom, my understanding is that the essence of Lagom may be lost if we simply adopt the ideals to serve as a hook for the ‘I’m doing the Lagom thing now’.
Lagom embodies living with an increased awareness and appreciation for life itself. It is a balance that permeates the way life is lived inside-out as opposed to what you can do externally to ‘be more Lagom’.
Purchases are considered more carefully. Marking an occasion is just as fitting in someone’s home as is a lavish meal out. An ethic of shared responsibility means that getting together with others sees everyone bringing something to the table. Excess would appear to be less of an issue because no one’s really bothered; people aren’t so much impressed by your stuff as they are drawn to who you are. The hard-working Swedes actually take their morning coffee breaks (Fika) to engage in genuine connections because the balance of the journey is as important as the destination.
It’s an interesting concept for ‘all or nothing’ type’s (like myself) because we’re naturally wired to approach life with the premise that if we’re doing a thing, we’re all out DOING IT! (Read more on Why ‘All or Nothing’ People Don’t Play by the 80/20 Rule here).
That said, I have found that becoming more consciously-minded means I have been naturally drawn to much of what Lagom embraces. My shopping habits have changed considerably; I feel less compelled to buy ‘things’. I am utterly content in my own company or that of others. I appreciate the thought and sentiment of the smallest carefully considered gifts, and genuinely want to do what I can to address the balance in our own family on matters such as sustainability where previously I simply didn’t.
The picnicking fascination and group activities the books refer to, I can get over, because if cultural ideologies like Lagom can have the ripple effect on curious outsiders of changing just one habit or at the least being aware of alternative approaches to life that mean we tread more lightly, then those are good ripples indeed!
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