Apparently, North Americans had been starving for coziness because we fell head-over-heels for the Danish concept Hygge a few years ago—and judging by how many articles I’ve seen about how to Hygge during the spring months, I think it’s fair to say that we’re in a long-term relationship with this soul-warming approach to wellness. A similar phenomenon occurred with our collective love for Scandi design; clearly, we were in dire need for more lightness, less stuff. Thanks to these viral concepts, we’re more likely to be pro down-time and pro minimalism.
It leaves one wondering, is there a Nordic answer for all of the lifestyle pickles we’ve created for ourselves? Perhaps yes.
In the U.S., the general feeling is “more is more.” Why purchase the perfect serving size when, for just a little more money, you can score the “value” size? Also, are you really working if your planner isn’t overflowing with deadlines and important meeting dates?
Even when this lifestyle leaves us feeling less satisfied and less connected, we understandably find it hard to create another path for ourselves even though a little voice inside may be telling us to downsize our physical, mental, and emotional load.
Here’s were Lagom comes in.
Hailing from Sweden, Lagom means “not too much, not too little” or “just enough.” As explained by Anna Brones, author of Live Lagom: Balanced Living the Swedish Way, “Applying a sense of lagom to our everyday lives—in what we eat, what we wear, how we live, how we work—might just be the trick for embracing a more balanced, sustainable lifestyle that welcomes the pleasures of existence rather than those of consumption.” I want to pause on that for a moment—The pleasures of existence rather than those of consumption. I think we all know the difference between the two as well as the fact that the former is far superior to the latter, but many of us still struggle when it comes to everyday decisions. (I do!)
Sadly, a sense of lack permeates our modern existence even when we have more than enough—and even when we’re self-aware about this mentality. In my experience, it’s when I’m caught up in my busy schedule, the lifestyles I absorb via scrolling social media, and old notions of buy/wear/do this to be liked/cool/accepted that I stop hearing my inner guide (who is quite fond of lagom, by the way).
If you can relate, you may also find that it’s often difficult to actually implement lagom and other approaches to minimalism. After all, what does “just enough” encompass in practical terms? The answer differs for every person and may even differ day by day.
One possible way to connect the concept of lagom to your everyday actions is to spend a few mindful moments in the morning (before you open Instagram!) asking yourself: What are my needs today? How much work do I actually need to accomplish? How much downtime do I anticipate needing? And so forth.
If we’re in the habit of setting a daily intention to follow a lagom way of life, our purchases will likely reflect that. When I am centered, for example, I buy only what I need after some research and reflection. In the end, my need are met, and I’m more satisfied with my belongings.
There’s simply less waste, less headache.
Moreover, the beautiful thing about lagom is that its benefits extend beyond our own tired brains and overstuffed closets:
“If we all live a little more lagom now, it ensures that a lot more people can live lagom in the future,” Brones says. “So instead of living as large as we can, scaling back a bit for the betterment of society as well as future generations. I think in the US we tend to have a ‘go big or go home’ attitude towards things, and lagom is very much the opposite of that.”
So let’s try to go small—and stay home and enjoy our hygge, shall we?
Have you heard of lagom? Have you tried any approaches to a more minimalist lifestyle?
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