Subtitled A Swedish Way of Living.
If you’re here because of hygge, rather than my scintillating prose, then you are almost certainly bound to have heard of Lagom. I have written about it a few times, as well as reviewing Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne.
Lagom is living a Goldilocks life, not too much, not too little and an awareness that we can’t use or take everything, but have an obligation to make sure that there is enough left for everyone. It’s about moderation, self-control within limits and not being excessive about anything, whether that’s eating or exercise. Just enough, that’s right.
The Lagom Life by Elisabeth Carlsson is a small book, about 5 inches by 5 inches but it has 176 pages of good quality paper. It sits very much alongside Bronte Aurell’s Essence of Hygge which I reviewed here on the blog. And, indeed, hygge and lagom fit seamlessly together. If hygge is the happy moments of life, lagom is the balance that helps create that quiet happiness. Hygge is the favourite Aunt who calls in to the house often, lagom is the mother working quietly behind the scenes, never boastful or attention-seeking, just providing a safe, sensible space to be yourself.
There are 8 chapters in the book, looking at lagom in various aspects of life from Happiness to food, how we use our time, being lagom with the body and how lagom can be a way to find balance in our souls.
It’s beautifully illustrated throughout, with colour photos that look like snapshots from the family album, not artificial and staged but moments caught on film. I could spend ages just looking at them alone, but the text is well worth a long perusal as well. Elisabeth lives in London now, although she is Swedish, and her lagom growing up just was, with no need to think about it. Swedish society seems to be set up to be balanced, conformist, egalitarian. I wonder if people living in an equal society don’t appreciate it fully until they move away and see how different a life can be. I couldn’t imagine, for example, living full-time in London, with its crazy pace of life, amount of people and emphasis on bigger, brighter, noisier. I love Liverpool, especially the quiet suburb I live in. The local village is still a village, with a real community feel. I like that.
Lagom sits very nicely with environmental awareness, frugality, compassion and a global approach to resources. Extending the idea of taking ‘just enough’ from a village to the country to the world is a beautiful dream (one that, perhaps, may never be possible because there will always be un-lagom people out there) BUT it would be a start if we all thought just a little about the effect our consumption has on other people. Thinking lagomly (if there is such a word) gives us a reason to say no, to pull back from too much of anything and to find our own sense of balance.
I appreciate that Elisabeth says everyone needs to find their own level of lagom. We all appreciate different things, and recognising that individuals may find different levels and different situations lagom is important. If we are truly seeking long-lasting contentment, rather than happiness which is fleeting, we could do worse than apply the principles of lagom to all the areas of our life.
Looking to live more lagom? Why not try these small actions over the week:
- Make life simpler. Cut back on time commitments and make space to just be.
- Cook simple meals. Roast a chicken and serve with coleslaw and new potatoes, or have a meat platter with rustic breads from the supermarket for lunch. Use up any left-overs as well. Waste not, want not is very lagom!
- Choose a capsule wardrobe for the week, say a couple of bottoms, three or four tops, one bag and one pair of shoes, and see if you can wear nothing else for the week. Making wardrobe choices easier is one less stress in the morning.
- Avoid personalities that you know tire you out or frustrate you. Invite old friends over for a drink and pizza. It’s Eurovision on Saturday 12th May, you could share a takeaway and sing along! Remember Sir Terry Wogan’s advice: don’t start drinking alcohol until song 9, when it’s only right to raise a glass to the memory of a great Eurovision commentator.
- Keep your exercise this week lagom. Choose walks or bike rides ahead of exercise classes at the gym, try yoga or pilates to exercise mind and body, or at least remember to stop before you are physically and mentally exhausted.
- Keep a watch on your spending this week. Write a list of things you need,and another of things you want. Ask before every purchase: do I really need this? Is it really a good purchase? If you are buying just for the sake of having something new, put it back and move away.
- Be grateful for what you have. Always seek for a meaningful life, not a happy one. Happiness is fleeting, while the contentment that comes from an acceptance of having just enough will last.
Small things make us happier in life. If you’d like to read about the small things that have helped me to be happier, my new book is available from Amazon. Happier is all about how to use the small details in life to make you happier. You can get it at Amazon.
I also think the principles of enjoying life and making the most of small details is an important part of How to Hygge Your Summer , my second book which contains my advice on having a hyggely time at home and outside, and which is also available in ebook and paperback version. You can find details about all my books, and how to connect with me on social media on the Start Here page of my blog.