There’s no stopping our love affairwith all things Scandinavian.From flat-packed furniture toNordic crime novels, we can’tseem to get enough of thecontinent’s ideas, exports andculture. No surprise then that hot onthe heels of last year’s hygge phenomenon (aka all thingscomforting and cosy) comes lagom, a word that roughlytranslates as ‘just right’. Or, as Anna Brones, author ofLive Lagom: Balanced Living, the Swedish Way (EburyPress, £9.99) puts it, ‘not too much, not too little… justsomething in the middle, the moderate choice betweentwo extremes’.Of course, the concept of balanced living isn’texclusively Swedish – Buddhists have understood theimportance of ‘the middle way’ for centuries, and evenwe Brits have the saying, ‘all things in moderation’. Butfor the Swedes, the concept goes much deeper; in fact,lagom is firmly rooted in the national psyche, influencingeverything from food to fashion, behaviour, design andeven community ethos. And, when you consider thecountry is listed as one of the 10 happiest nations in theworld*, it could be time to check out how living with lagomcan help you be healthier and happier, too.Imagine how it would feel to wake each morning feelingdeeply rested, at peace with yourself and quietly confidentyou can meet the day’s challenges with equanimity.
Boost Your Wellbeing With Lagom Sweden’s Answer to Mindfulness Photo Gallery
Unfortunately, that happens all too rarely. Tight workdeadlines, family and social commitments,plus a never-ending list of householdchores don’t just eat into your time, theyeat into your peace of mind, as well. Butbringing more balance to your life – fromhow you spend your free time to theclothes you wear, the food you eat andeven how you deal with a difficult neighbour– not only reduces stress, but has thepotential to make you more productivetoo. And it doesn’t stop there; living lifewith lagom can increase contentmentand self-acceptance, enhance yourrelationships and job satisfaction, improvedecision making, aid work/life balance andultimately, bring you closer to the life youwant to be living.
For Brones, the key to finding the rightbalance begins with yourself. Ratherthan believing the path to success lies inreaching your ideal weight, getting yourdream job or finding your life partner, thelagom philosophy involves accepting yourlife as it is right now. ‘Instead of perfection,a lagom lifestyle is about being “goodenough”’, says Brones. But that doesn’tmean giving up on your dreams. Rather, itasks you to rethink external values in orderto reassess what has meaning for you. ‘Ifwe’re able to identify what our true goalsare – ones that we define, not ones thatsociety defines – then we’re better ableto lead a life that’s successful on ourown terms.
Once you’ve reconnected to your corevalues, it’s time to expand that awarenessinto all aspects of your experience, believesBrones. ‘Start removing all of the non-essential items in your life, both physicallyand emotionally,’ she suggests. Whetherit’s unworn clothing, unwanted gifts orunused kitchen gadgets, clearing yourspace of things you no longer needrefreshes the energy in your home andcreates space for you to enjoy and feelnourished by possessions you love. Thesame principles apply to the people youspend time with.
If someone doesn’t enrichyour life, while you may not be ready to‘drop’ them, it’s worth asking yourself whatkind of experiences you’re choosing foryourself by continuing to spend time withthem. By giving more attention to whatand who is in your life, you give yourselfthe space to ‘begin to find a constanthappiness with who you are, not whoyou hope to become’.After this, the rest is really quite simple.Whether it’s yo-yo dieting, excessivetraining, working too hard or playing toohard – choosing the ‘middle way’ andcreating more space in your day, week oryear will help you feel more centred andcontent in each moment. So next time thepressure’s building, pause for five minutesand breathe, be grateful for what youalready have, book that weekend away– but most of all, remember you’re alreadyenough as you are.
Take a coffee breakSwap the cappuccinoto go and createspace in your day to slow downand enjoy a cuppa and cake (ormatcha and banana). Alone orwith a friend, it doesn’t have tobe indoors – a walk in the park oralong the beach all count as fika.
RechargeTake time out to restand re-energise after aday at work. Do some gentle yoga,chill out with a couple of friends,spend a bit of time doing nothing inparticular. Anything counts as longas you’re feeling content and livingin the moment.
Embrace natureSwedes lovenature, so whether it’s a briskwalk, taking your trainingoutdoors or filling your housewith fresh flowers, reconnectto the natural world as oftenas you can.