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Lagom – The Swedish Philosophy Of The Balanced Life Principles

Lagom - the balanced life principles

What Is The Philosophy Of Lagom?

Lagom, pronounced ‘lah-gum’, is a Swedish philosophy that translates to “just right” or “not too little, not too much.” The concept of Lagom is all about moderation, which is the key to living a happy and balanced life.

The Swedish lifestyle concept of Lagom has been present in Scandinavia for years, but it has recently gained popularity in many other countries around the world. This concept teaches us how to find a balance in every area of everyday life. It teaches us how to be more present at the moment and enjoy the simple things in life. It also teaches us how to learn to live with less rather than focus on abundance.

When it first appeared in the lifestyle scene, Lagom was perceived as the Swedish response to the Danish philosophy of Hygge, which is a concept of warmth, contentment, and harmony. However, now people are more aware of the differences between the two concepts. 

What’s characteristic about the philosophy of Lagom is that it can be incorporated into different spheres of life, such as family and relationships, work, celebrations, holidays, leisure, and interior design. However, living the Lagom lifestyle takes practice. We live in a fast-paced society, and amidst the everyday chaos of life, it takes a lot of practice to learn how to find a balance in every area of life and focus on the here and now and live with less.

To better explain the main principles of the Swedish lifestyle concept of Lagom, in what follows, we’ve presented 8 ways you can balance your life the Lagom way. (1)

How Do You Practice Lagom?

1. Take Regular Breaks At Work

The Swedish concept of Lagom can be applied to work, and here’s how Swedes do that: Swedes take regular 20-minute breaks during the day, in the morning, and in the afternoon. The morning break, known as fika, involves drinking coffee and eating something sweet. This practice enables Swedes to take time for themselves, relax, recharge, talk with their co-workers, and forget about all the emails, deadlines, tasks, and anything else that a typical office day involves.

While in most countries, people have a hard time taking a coffee break at work, in Sweden, this type of break is mandatory. And when it comes to lunch break, Swedes rarely eat lunch at their desk. They usually go out for lunch for an hour.

Additionally, Swedes tend to stick to their work schedule. They start work at 9 a.m. and finish work at 5 p.m. They rarely work overtime. Moreover, they perceive working overtime as a sign of poor time management. (2)

2. Live At Home In A Sustainable Way

Swedes put great emphasis on sustainable living. Not only are they highly adept at recycling and upcycling things, but they are also skilled at furnishing their homes in a simple and practical way.

The “not too little, not too much” principle of Lagom translates well in their homes. They tend to maintain a minimalist, clutter-free home. In a typical Swedish home, walls are usually light grey or white. The furniture is simple and functional. The décor is carefully thought out as well.

So, if you are looking to live the Lagom lifestyle, which means to live your life in a balanced and simple way, make sure you declutter your home. Go through your belongings and donate or throw away anything you no longer need, want, or use. By decluttering your home, you’ll create more space and a relaxing atmosphere in your home and feel more organized as well. 

Additionally, by maintaining a minimalist home, you can focus more on more meaningful things – things that are unique, simple, and sustainable and that last forever.

Another way you can live sustainably at home is by recycling, using sustainable materials, and upcycling whenever this is possible.

3. Be Kind And Considerate In Your Relationships

If you want to live a happy and meaningful life, be caring, compassionate, kind, and considerate in your relationships, both romantic and otherwise. 

Be aware of the people around you. Respect other people’s feelings, opinions, and needs. Live according to the principle that you’re no better than and superior to anyone else. Don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t brag about your social status, accomplishments, and successes. And treat everyone as equals.

4. Learn To Listen Attentively

While interrupting someone while talking with them is normal in most countries, in Sweden, this rarely happens. If you talk with a Swede, you can’t help but notice that they speak in an even tone and make pauses. They attentively listen to you and tend to slow down the conversation. They also let you finish your sentence and show interest in what you have to say.

So, next time you talk with someone, try slowing the conversation down. Don’t talk over or interrupt the other person. Instead, listen carefully to them and think about what you have to say prior to giving them a response.

5. Be Happy With Yourself

Instead of trying to be bigger and better than everyone else and striving for perfection, be happy with who you are and what you have and strive for moderation. Learn to be proud of your successes and everything you’ve done in your life. And most importantly, find your own level of inner peace, happiness, and contentment.

6. Go Hiking Or Camping Alone

Swedes love having adventures on their own. It’s not unusual for them to go camping or on a multiple-day hike by themselves deep into the mountains.

Undeniably, spending time in nature alone can be a truly liberating, rewarding, and empowering experience. Perhaps you can’t imagine yourself camping on your own in the wilderness or going on a hiking trip to a canyon, but you might want to consider the idea of spending a few hours alone in nature to breathe in the fresh air and appreciate the beauty of the sounds of the birds or those of the leaves that make when rustling in the wind.

Spending time alone in nature allows you to be more aware of the present moment, slow down, and reflect on your thoughts and feelings – something which rarely happens in our fast-paced society.

7. Create A Minimalist Wardrobe

Another way you can practice sustainable living is by creating a minimalist wardrobe. Once you begin creating a capsule wardrobe, you’ll see that you don’t need to buy clothes often and update your wardrobe for every occasion or season. 

The point of creating a minimalist wardrobe is to learn to spend less money on buying clothes, simplify your closet, and wear clothes that make you feel your best.

The easiest way to create a capsule wardrobe is to donate or throw away clothes that no longer fit or you no longer want and replace them with new or secondhand garments you know you will often wear or even together.

Those who have tried this method say it helps you choose an outfit more easily and spend less energy and time doing laundry and shopping. 

8. Enjoy The Morgondopp

There are about 100 000 lakes in Sweden, so it’s no wonder the people living there love to swim.

Morgondopp, or the morning dip, is a type of outdoor bath that Swedes take first thing in the morning. They usually take this type of bath between May and September. However, some prefer to enjoy it even in the winter months.

How long the bath will last mainly depends on the temperature. There is even a thermometer hung on the end of a string on the piers. Some people start their season once the temperature increases to 50°F. My Swedish friend Mikael describes the morgondopp as something serene. He says, “The moment I enter the water first thing in the morning, I feel fresh, energized, and ready to start the day.” 

So, if you live near a river, lake, or sea, now you know what’s the first thing you should do when you wake up in the morning to feel energized and relaxed. (3)

What Is Hygge?

Hygge, pronounced ‘hoo-ga,’ is a Danish lifestyle trend that focuses on contentment, harmony, warmth, joy, and conviviality. Explaining what exactly the concept of Hygge means can be a little tricky. It can’t be translated into a single word, but in essence, it means finding joy in the simple things in life, from reading a book while sipping hot cocoa to having a good conversation with a loved one.

Hygge is about spending time with the people we love. It’s about a feeling of warmth and coziness. A feeling of togetherness. A feeling that we’re protected from the world. Hygge is about finding joy in the seemingly unimportant things in life. It’s about being grateful. It’s the search for everyday happiness.

The concept of Hygge is so heavily ingrained in the Danish psyche that the word hygge comes in the form of an adjective and a verb. For instance, a room, a party, or a certain object can be hyggelig, which means hygge-like. You can even make some foods to be more hyggelig. For example, to make a cake more hyggelig, you need to add icing. (4)