'Just enough': How the Swedish concept of ‘lagom’ can help you find contentment
Lagom is the right amount of everything.
American culture is out of balance. We work too hard, consume too much and live under constant stress. Our culture tells us to get rich or die trying and that resting is laziness. We take very few vacations, spend too much time staring at screens, and our diets are overly reliant on processed foods.
It’s no wonder over 37 million Americans are on antidepressants.
The antidote to this unsustainable lifestyle could come from a Swedish philosophy known as “lagom” (lah-gomm), which translates to “just the right amount.” Living lagom means developing a mindset focused on balance, sustainability and living in the moment. It’s learning to appreciate what we have instead of striving for what we don’t.
Lagom teaches us that we don’t need to live in a penthouse or struggle in a tenement. It’s all about finding a place that is calm and comfortable. It means considering whether to have that second piece of cake for dessert, knowing when to pick your winnings off the table and understanding that it's ok to say “no.”
It’s choosing to be satisfied instead of over-indulging because the secret is that the lightness of satisfaction is more fulfilling than the burden of indulgence.
Are you looking to live lagom? Here are 7 ways to get started.
1. Know when to take a break
2. Declutter your home
“The fewer items you have in your home, the more likely that you'll be able to appreciate each and every possession you own,” Niki Brantmark, founder of My Scandinavian Home, tells Livingetc.
A minimalist living room.
3. Enjoy nature
Lagom is about appreciating nature by respecting it through sustainable living. But it's also about enjoying the natural world. “There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well-being,” Lisa Nisbet, Ph.D., told the American Psychological Association. “You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”
4. Have an attitude of gratitude
It's only possible to find contentment and satisfaction in life if you appreciate what you already have. Further, without gratitude, you won't enjoy the things you strive for either. "He who knows he has enough is rich," Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu writes in the “Tao Te Ching.”
5. Be present
Balance is all about living in the now and being present instead of being focused on the past or preoccupied with the future. Happiness only exists in the current moment that you have right now, so embrace it.
6. Live drama-free
There’s no need to put up with unnecessary agitation, whether that comes from the people in our lives or our habits that don’t bring us joy. Simplifying our social media lives, so we experience fewer distractions, aggravations and unnecessary comparisons is a great way to live lagom.
7. Eat well, but enjoy yourself
Eating a balanced diet means a lot of different things to different people. But striving for perfection and depriving yourself or overindulging and being unhealthy aren’t paths to contentment.