Home Hygge Hygge vs. Lagom – What Are The Differences?

Hygge vs. Lagom – What Are The Differences?

Differences Between Hygge And Lagom

Denmark and Sweden rank among the happiest countries in the world, and their lifestyle concepts of Hygge vs. Lagom respectively get part of the credit. These two philosophies have been present in Scandinavia for years, but they’ve recently grown in popularity in many other countries around the world.

When Hygge appeared in the lifestyle scene a few years ago, people started putting throw pillows on their sofas and painting their walls white to make their homes look more hygge-like. Similarly, when the Lagom lifestyle trend first took hold, many people started creating minimalist homes by buying simple and functional furniture, upcycling, and recycling.

Some people tend to think that these two concepts are very similar. Others even claim that Lagom is more dominant than Hygge. However, there’s one fact that no one can deny, and that is that Hygge and Lagom are unique in their own way.

Hygge and Lagom are so heavily ingrained in the psyche of the Danes and Swedes, respectively, that they shape their way of life. And recently, they’ve started shaping the way of life of many people in many other countries around the world.

So, in this article, we’re going to explain what exactly these concepts represent and what their differences are. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

What Is Hygge?

Hygge, pronounced ‘hue-gah,’ is a Danish concept of warmth, contentment, togetherness, coziness, conviviality, and harmony. So far, it’s been translated into various phrases, such as “cozy togetherness,” “the art of creating intimacy,” “taking pleasure from soothing things,” and “coziness of the soul.” 

Explaining what Hygge is can be a little bit tricky. It can’t be translated into one word, but in its essence, it means feeling happy in the present moment and finding joy in the simple things in life, such as walking on the beach, enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning, spending quality time with loved ones, or spending a day in the wild. Hygge can also be making time for self-care, such as curling up in a warm, cozy blanket with a good book and some coffee or tea.

The concept of Hygge is about creating an atmosphere you can enjoy either with your family or close friends or on your own. It’s about a feeling that you’re protected from the world and that you can let yourself let your guard down. It’s about spending time with your loved ones while having an endless conversation about anything during a homemade family dinner. It’s about the pursuit of happiness. (1)

The concept of Hygge teaches us how to turn the ordinary aspects of everyday life into something we can enjoy and be content with. For instance, you can create Hygge by putting candles on the shelves in your living room or in the center of your dining room table or adding a soft and cozy comforter on your bed.

One reason why Denmark’s status as the happiest country in the world can be attributed to the concept of Hygge is that this lifestyle trend enables Danes to create a good work-life balance, which, in turn, lets them make time to pursue meaningful relationships with friends and family members, and at work. 

Science has shown that when a person’s need for love and belonging is fulfilled, it leads to happiness, well-being, and self-esteem. Well, thanks to the positive and meaningful social relationships Danes are highly adept at building, every Dane’s need for love and belonging is undoubtedly fulfilled.  

Another reason why Denmark’s status as the happiest nation in the world can be attributed to Hygge is that this concept encourages Danes to practice gratitude every day. It encourages them to make the most of the moment and appreciate what they have and the life they lead.

Science has shown that practicing the art of gratitude can benefit us on a physical, psychological, and social level. Namely, those that keep gratitude journals are happier, more enthusiastic, more alert, and less likely to develop certain diseases and feel stressed in various situations. When it comes to Hygge, this lifestyle concept helps Danes be grateful for everything they have and the life they lead since it’s all about enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

In addition to relationships and work, the concept of Hygge can be applied to other areas of everyday life, and the home is where its influence is most evident. For example, you can create a hygge mood at your home by adding soft throw blankets and pillows to your couch, letting in more natural light, painting your walls white or light grey, keeping fresh-cut flowers and houseplants, and placing candles in different places in your home. In this way, you can turn your home into a warmer, cozier, and more welcoming place to live in.

Additionally, you can even make your food to be more hyggelig. There’s nothing better than when you sit down together with close friends or family for tea, a meal, or a treat and talk about the little and big things in life, which is exactly what Hygge is about. For example, iced vanilla cookies, homemade berry jam, roasted chestnuts, hot spiced fruit punch, or hot cinnamon chocolate are foods and drinks that the concept of Hygge recommends that you consume as they can instantly bring hygge happiness into your home.

What Is Lagom? 

Lagom, pronounced ‘lah-gom,’ is a Swedish lifestyle concept that loosely translates as ‘not too much and not too little’ or ‘just right.’ The concept of Lagom teaches us how to achieve balance in every area of our everyday lives and learn how to live in moderation. Lagom also teaches us how to reach the stage where we feel the happiest and most content in our lives. (2)

The lifestyle concept of Lagom is increasingly ingrained in the Swedish psyche and permeates their society, from family and relationships to work, finances, holidays, celebrations, leisure, interior design, and taking care of the environment.

For instance, you can achieve Lagom by creating a balance between your work and your life by taking regular breaks at work to have a cup of coffee, eat something sweet, talk with your co-workers and simply recharge and forget about all the demands, tasks, and responsibilities a typical office day involves. 

You can also achieve balance in your eating habits by eating just enough to satisfy your appetite and no more.

You can also incorporate Lagom into your home. For instance, Lagom emphasizes the idea that whatever you keep in your home that has no strong emotional value for you and is not practical is only taking up space in your home.

According to the concept of Lagom, your home is where you should feel the happiest, most content, and fulfilled. To feel this way, you need to furnish and decorate your home in a way that will create a warm, cozy, relaxing, and inviting atmosphere. You can achieve this by:

  • Using simple and functional furniture that suits your lifestyle and is appropriate to the size of the space in your home.
  • Painting your walls light grey or white.
  • Keeping house plants that can survive any condition.
  • Decluttering your home, i.e., getting rid of everything you no longer use, need, or want.
  • Using rugs instead of carpets.
  • Decorating your home with practical and aesthetically pleasing pieces, but not exaggerating.
  • Placing candles in different places in your home will make the space look brighter, warmer, and cozier, and it’ll add ambiance to your home.
  • Using specific fabric and furnishing in your home without spending a lot of money.
  • Upcycling, recycling, using sustainable materials and buying second-hand stuff rather than just constantly updating your home with new things. For instance, you can transform damaged light bulbs into decorative vases or old mason jars into unique toothbrush holders.
  • Creating a balance between vintage and modern furniture by blending old pieces with modern ones.
  • Creating a balance between color, natural elements, and texture.

The beauty of the concept of Lagom is that you can pick parts of it and blend them with your own culture. There is no specific habit you can adopt, and the way I perceive or incorporate Lagom into my life may be different from the way you see and apply this concept to your life. 

For instance, your relationships are just one of the many areas of your everyday life to which you can apply this concept. Lagom teaches us how to be better listeners. It encourages us not to talk over or interrupt the person we’re having a conversation with or prevent them from finishing their sentence. It also encourages us to listen attentively to the other person and reflect before giving them a response. Additionally, it encourages us to speak in an even and calm tone and slow down the discourse.

Lagom also teaches us how to nurture our relationships. It teaches us to be compassionate, caring, and considerate in our relationships. It teaches us that we should be aware of the people around us and treat them as equals. It teaches us that we should not compare ourselves to others or brag about our accomplishments, successes, and social status.

Then, Lagom also teaches us how to soothe our souls. We can do this by having a good night’s sleep, relaxing in a sauna, taking a bath in a river, lake, or sea first thing in the morning, or going for a walk, hiking, or camping in the wild or anywhere in nature.

For instance, to have a good night’s sleep, Lagom encourages you to prepare yourself mentally and physically prior to going to sleep. For example, to fall asleep more easily as well as ensure that you stay asleep, Lagom encourages you to do the following activities:

  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Read a book
  • Knit
  • Take a warm bath
  • Paint
  • Spend time with family or cuddle up with a pet

There’s another thing we can learn from Swedes and their concept of Lagom, and that is how to look after our bodies. Swedes eat a balanced diet, neither refraining from enjoying sweet foods nor overdoing the salad. They also incorporate exercise into their daily lives by walking or cycling to work rather than going by car and taking the stairs instead of the lift.

And did you know that you can also incorporate Lagom into the way you dress? When it comes to dressing the way Swedes do, it’s all about being practical and simple. Whether we are talking about work attire, a walk in the nearest park, a quick trip to the local supermarket, a night out in the local club, or coping with harsh weather, Swedes tend to wear clothes with simple color blocks and clean lines. Why? Because such clothes are easy to match and mix.

Additionally, the Swedish wardrobe is similar to a minimalist wardrobe, which is created by removing unused, outgrown, or unwanted clothes and replacing them with a limited number of clothing items that can be worn on various occasions and even together.

And last but not least, in comparison with Hygge, Lagom puts great emphasis on collective well-being. Lagom encourages us to be aware and think of others and be kind, compassionate, and considerate towards everyone around us. 

There’s one Swedish proverb that goes like this: “One must learn to make others happy if one wants to be happy,” and I couldn’t agree more. Not only will you be happier by helping others, but you’ll also contribute to building a healthier, stronger, and happier community. For instance, one great way in which you can help your community is by volunteering for a local charity, care home, or children’s sports club.

Lagom also encourages us to perform small acts of kindness to make others happy, such as writing a letter to a relative or friend we haven’t seen for years, buying a homeless person a warm meal, or giving someone our seat on a crowded bus.