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'Just enough': How the Swedish concept of ‘lagom’ can help you find contentment

Lagom is the right amount of everything.

sweden, lagom, satisfaction

A woman salutes the sun in Adolfsström, Sweden.

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

According to research, working at a breakneck speed and refusing to take a break will actually hurt your work performance. Get up, take a walk, have a cup of coffee with a friend or coworker and take a moment for yourself regularly.

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.

sweden, lagom, minimalism

A minimalist living room.

via Pexels

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.

All images provided by CARE & Cargill

The impact of the CARE and Cargill partnership goes beyond empowering cocoa farmers

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Cocoa, the key ingredient found in your favorite chocolate bar, has been a highly revered food product throughout human history. It’s been used for religious ceremonies in Peru, royal feasts in England and France, traded as currency for the ancient Mayans. And considering that many of us enjoy chocolate on a regular basis (mochas and candy bars, anyone?) it seems like that love is still going strong even today.

And if you are someone who looks forward to that sweet chocolate pick-me-up on a regular basis, you likely have the women of West Africa to thank.

Women like Barbara Sika Larweh, a mother of six who works as a cocoa farmer in Larwehkrom, a community located within the Sefwi Wiawso Municipality in the Western North Region of Ghana.

care, cargillMama Cash now empowers other women to gain independence

Nearly 60% of the world’s cocoa comes from both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where Barbara and other mothers make up over half of the labor force. These female cocoa farmers shoulder the same physical burden as their male counterparts—all while also running households and paying for their children to go to school. And yet, they typically don’t receive equal income. Nor do they have access to the resources that could help them achieve financial independence.

Thankfully, positive changes are taking place. Barbara’s story exemplifies the impact of programs offered by CARE and Cargill, such as Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), which are small groups that offer low-interest loans to individuals living in poverty, helping them to build savings without going into devastating debt.

Through these initiatives, women, like Barbara, are equipped with vital knowledge like financial literacy to improve household incomes, sustainable agriculture practices that improve yields, and nutrition education to diversify their family’s diets.

“They came and trained me on the VSLA. I dedicated myself and volunteered so that I would be able to train my people, too,” Barbara explains.

Within the first year of using the programs, Barbara and the people she trained profited—earning her the nickname of “Mama Cash.”

This is no isolated event. In cocoa-growing communities supported by CARE and Cargill programming between 2019-2022, the number of households living below the national poverty line decreased by nearly 32% in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana - as a direct result of increasing and diversifying income through using these programs.

Like Barbara, who today is an executive member of the Community Development Committee, more than 2.4 million women have used their success as entrepreneurs to transform into leaders and decision-makers within their communities. Whether it’s giving most of their earnings back to their families, reducing child labor, or exponentially increasing overall farm yields, the rippling effect is profound.

The impact of the CARE and Cargill partnership goes beyond empowering cocoa farmers. The joint initiatives have fostered progress on complex global issues related to social justice, such as gender equality, climate change, and food security. By improving access to quality nutrition, water, and hygiene, the joint programs have positively influenced the cocoa communities’ well-being.

Suddenly there’s a lot more to think about the next time you eat a candy bar.

Find out more about the important partnership between CARE and Cargill here.

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