As a Libra, also known as the scales, I am forever seeking a balanced life. So, I was super psyched to hear about lagom. You're likely wondering: what does lagom mean? This Swedish lifestyle trend is all about achieving balance, something millennials are sorely lacking in today's go-go-go world. Lagom is defined as "just the right amount." In general, Americans can learn a lot from Scandinavian culture and their concept of balance. According to the website Culture Trip, Scandinavians are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world.
"Countries like Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden have consistently ranked in the top five of the most livable countries in the world," the Culture Trip reported. "This high index is the result of extraordinary high life satisfaction, personal health, and social cohesion."
Basically instead of more, more, more, Scandinavians prioritize balance (lagom) and self care (hygge), and I think it's about time to start taking a page from their book. While hygge is all about taking time to slow down and get cozy, lagom helps you find the optimal state of balance between not enough and too much. It's about living your life between the lines where everything is just right.
You Actually Learned Lagom As A Child
It's no mistake that the concept of lagom is often compared to the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. However, most of seems to have forgotten the lessons we learned from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. If it's been a while since you read this book, it's basically the definition of lagom —finding something that's just right.
"I think that in a time of excess, which many of us are currently living in, lagom is key to becoming more centered, happy, and balancing the pressures of everyday life," Niels Eék, Swedish psychologist and co-founder of wellbeing app Remente, told Travel + Leisure in an email.
In 2017, everyone is expected to stay tethered to the digital world at all times, which can be stressful. In fact, many younger millennials have never known life without the internet or cellphones. Older millennials recall landlines, and when being online with a dial-up connecting seemed so innovative. If dial-up internet was still the only option I'm sure we'd all spend less time online, and more time doing other things, like reading books.
And, as an older millennial, I know that I sometimes yearn for those simpler times when I did not have the 24-hour news cycle in the palm of my hand, and taking some time for myself was as easy as taking the phone off the hook. We'll, I have good news. Eék said that lagom can be applied to every area of your life so you can get to the sweet spot of everything being just right, just like Goldilocks.
How To Make Everything "Just Right"
Whether it's limiting screen time, making time for exercise and meditation, or working less and living more, the lesson is simple — balance is the new busy. And, applying lagom to your life can ensure that you won't end up like Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls when she's trying to open the Dragonfly Inn.
Basically, lagom is kind of like Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but less extreme. Personally, I already do this at home. Another trait of being a Libra is the requirement that my physical environment be beautiful, inspiring, and clutter free. Basically a balance between form and function, which Los Angeles-based Swedish designer Caroline Froberg told Travel + Leisure is an important principle of lagom.
"I believe in a minimalistic approach to design," she said. "Designing with the 'lagom' amount of items and proportions is something I apply to my design choices daily."
So, if you've been thinking about decluttering your living space, now is the perfect time. If you need another reason to take the leap, consider that being surrounded by too many things can actually increase anxiety. According to the blog Nourishing Minimalism, a cluttered home can overstimulate your visual, olfactory, and tactile senses. It also makes relaxing more difficult, reminds your brain that you have a huge to-do list — which can lead to guilt, and creates frustration because living among clutter makes it hard to find things you need, like your keys.
Balance Is Different For Everyone
While you don't want an overcrowded living space, a bare-bones approach can feel uninspiring and lacking. The key to lagom is finding the balance between what inspires and motivates you and what causes anxiety and drags you down. It's important to remember that this is different for everyone because one person's lagom can be another persona's worst nightmare.
"Instead of asking yourself ‘can I do better?’ or ‘should I try harder?’ ask yourself ‘is this good enough?’ and ‘have I done my best?’ This way, you will be more focused on finding the right balance, instead of simply pushing yourself toward something," Eék told Travel + Leisure.
The bottom line? You can use lagom to identify where your life is out of whack. I can think of an example for myself right now. I work through the hours of breakfast and lunch, and I don't always set myself up for success by having meals prepped that I can eat quickly. This means that some days (OK, most days) I'm not eating lunch at all. Clearly this is not helping me feel balanced. Now it's your turn: Where can your life use a little lagom?