For the Danish people happiness is all about hygge and for Finns it’s important to find your sisu, but Swedes look for lagom in their lives.
Lagom (pronounced law-gum) means ‘just the right amount’ and it describes the Swedish attitude to life. It’s about having what you need, but not more. You don’t over-indulge in anything, but you’re not frugal either.
Elisabeth Carlsson, author of The Lagom Life, says: “Essentially, it’s about balance … so much of who I am, my views, my beliefs, my decisions are guided by this sentiment.”
While she rebelled against this way of life in her teens, Elisabeth later came to accept her own version of lagom and apply its principles to all areas of her life.
The lagom way of life
According to Elisabeth, lagom can be applied to many things “how much ice cream you want, the size of your house, the spiciness of a salsa, how drunk you got last Friday (yes, really!) – but lagom signify value as well as quantity.”
“Lagom is about moderation, a sense of balance and togetherness,” she adds.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Sweden is frequently named one of the top 10 happiest countries in the world.
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7 ways to follow the lagom trend
- Don’t force yourself to be happy. A study at Berkeley in California monitored individuals who said happiness was their main goal and found that they were more likely to feel lonely. Sometimes you need to allow happiness to come naturally, rather than pursuing it.
- Contribute to something greater than yourself. Find a way to give back to your community by volunteering for a local project, helping a friend or even taking part in a beach clean.
- Take regular breaks. Make sure you take a few breaks even on busy days. You’ll work better when you’re refreshed – especially if you’ve had fika (more about that later!).
- Learn to be contented. Finding inner contentment can be as simple as doing something you love, such as singing or playing a musical instrument. “Having a big party is not necessary for happiness, but having a hot drink with a friend could do it,” Elisabeth says.
- Change your way of thinking. Don’t ask yourself: “Can I do better?”. Instead, ask yourself: “Is this good enough?”
- Reclaim your own time. Swedes like to keep their work life and home life separate – remind yourself of that the next time you’re tempted to stay late at work or check your emails over the weekend.
- Bring lagom style into your home. In autumn, Swedish people like to make their homes cosy by shopping for snuggly blankets, cushions and lamps. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time there, you might as well make it cosy! In the spring and summer, they like to declutter and give their homes a refresh with some new textiles or a curtain switch. Move your furniture to make the most of any sunny spots in your home.
Everything stops for fika (coffee and cake)
Fika is one Swedish tradition which we’d be happy to adopt! Fika means ‘to have coffee’ and it usually means stopping to have a hot drink with some tasty cakes on the side (naturally).
For Swedes, fika allows them to take a proper break and connect with their friends, family or colleagues. Of course you can have fika by yourself, but the important thing is that you stop and have a rest. You can recharge your batteries and fully relax alone – or catch up on some gossip.
Photo by Anjeli Lundblad, Inès d’Anselme, Julien Lanoy and Jon Flobrant on Unsplash