What is Lagom?

You’ve heard of Hyyge, now it’s time to get on board with Lagom! But what is Lagom, and is it an ideal lifestyle for you?

Like most people familiar with Hygge, I’m a big fan of the Danish concept of cosiness. In my post-Hygge research, when looking for further reading, I came across Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne.

When I think of Sweden, I think of a country that’s really got itself together. Sweden is portrayed as being organised, progressive and happy and I was interested to see if the concept of Lagom is the route of their success. Given that I’m on a mindfulness mission, I’m keen to explore how different countries create self awareness so the book went straight onto my pile.

In a nutshell, Lagom is about doing or having never too little or never too much. It focuses on satisfying needs without going overboard and ensuring you never have too much of a good thing.

The idea of balance is what Lagom is all about. It’s Swedish functionality all wrapped up into one, hashtaggable word! It’s the voice of reason, asking if you really need to watch more than one episode of your favourite show for a study break, or if yet another pretty mug should actually be on your shopping list.

The book is beautifully put together, featuring wonderful photography and an easy to read layout. There is the odd page which features black text on a dark background, but in general it’s terribly pretty. It’s also provided me with plenty of photography inspiration of my own, which is a big plus.

A big criticism I have is that the book had a holier-than thou air about it. Whereas Hygge is about creating a routine that suits you and creating a harmonious lifestyle, Lagom seems to have a great deal of rules and expectations. The notion that the last biscuit will always be taken by a non-Swede, for instance, is slightly judgemental and there’s an attitude that the Swedish way is the best way. A lot of information was frequently repeated and much of the advice could be put down to common sense rather than ‘Lagom’.

That being said, there are ideas I’ll be taking away from it. I’ve been staying behind at work far too often lately, going beyond my working hours and giving small tasks too much time. Moving forwards, for my own sanity, I’ll be applying the Lagom amount of time to tasks (not too much and not too little) and ensuring my work/life balance becomes more Lagom too!

The most valuable part of the book for me was the section on being eco friendly and how Swedes use Lagom to reduce their environmental impact. I’m aiming to reduce my carbon footprint this year and the book gave me plenty of inspiration for new practices to pick up. Moving forwards, I’m going to be taking more care when it comes to food packaging, avoiding plastics and buying packaging free if possible.

So what is Lagom? Well it seems to be the more firm, guided sister to Denmarks’ Hygge. Though it’s easy to slip into eating comfort foods (chocolate mug cake I’m looking at you!) and giving yourself ‘me-time’ in the name of Hygge, maybe embracing Lagom too will encourage productivity and encourage motivation.

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