I’m really into books that are all about creating the best lifestyle for you, and particularly loved the Little Book of Hygge I received as a Christmas present last year. The one book that really spoke to me though, was Lagom – the Swedish art of Balanced Living. Lagom is often referred to as the Swedish version of Hygge and is fast becoming the new lifestyle and cultural phenomenon us Brits are adopting.
As with the Danes and their Hygge, I related a lot to Lagom, as I think we Scots are not too dissimilar to our Scandinavian neighbours. A lot of what they promote, such as spending time in the great outdoors no matter the season, or offering to help out neighbours, are second nature here.
However as the title of the book suggests, Lagom is all about balance. For instance, you are encouraged to go out and explore the countryside, camp, climb, ski or whatever, so long as you don’t disturb or destroy anything. In essence, it’s all about taking a more conscious and balanced approach in all walks of life.
This is what really drew me into the book and the Lagom lifestyle as a whole. Now that I’m a parent, a whole lot of attitudes and priorities have changed for me. Any parent will tell you that they probably didn’t consider themselves selfish, until they had a child or children. Then you start to realise all the things you did or took for granted which either are no longer appropriate, or which you need or want to sacrifice for your little one(s).
For example, do I really need all those clothes? Or, more specifically, do I really need all those Saturday night clothes, when realistically I’ll get about one night out every couple of months, after a good few weeks of strenuous planning. Or do I really need like 8 pairs of black leggings when I only have one pair of legs?
Not only does Lagom preach about the importance of “just enough,” it helps keep your life organised, whether at home, work or at leisure. If I have just enough clothes for each occasion or eventuality, then I won’t need to buy unnecessary furniture, rooms won’t get clogged, and theoretically, I should always be able to find what I’m looking for. The same goes for paperwork, stationery, DVDs, books – heck, even pots and pans! If you don’t overdo it on the material possessions, you find that your home and your life suddenly become less cluttered.
As an organisational freak (to the point where every client at work has their own labelled folder and specific set of matching documents), I am very much a fan of anything which can keep my life in order (more so than it already is. Just ask Craig about the wee man’s wardrobe). So of course that side of Lagom appealed to me, but in doing this, or living a more practical life, you actually end up benefiting the environment. Think about it; if you’re not buying food you don’t need then you’re not wasting it, and if you’re not buying possessions you don’t need you are reducing your own carbon footprint. The Lagom life goes much deeper than this in terms of being an environmentally responsible person, but even by following just one or two of the practices (it feels weird calling it practices, like it’s some sort of set of cult commandments or something) you automatically start becoming more eco-friendly, and certainly more aware of the impact of your actions on the environment and wider world.
This then leads to more awareness in daily life. Now, when I’m doing things like picking new furniture, I don’t just go for the cheapest or most aesthetically pleasing item, I think about things like durability and longevity, and whether, in fact, it’s really necessary to replace the furniture item in the first place. Is it beyond repair, or could we just paint it/add a mirror/change handles etc to achieve the desired effect without wasting good furniture?
Upcycling and reusing things are part and parcel of the lifestyle, but so is a more conscious approach to even basic things like grocery shopping. Whether it’s changing your shopping habits to minimising food waste through better meal planning or ‘deal’ avoidance, or simply looking at products and choosing those with less packaging or which have travelled less miles before finding their way into your basket, we can all become a little more Lagom and help the planet at the same time.
It’s not all about being an eco-friendly warrior, though, as Lagom is also about balance and togetherness with friendships, family and work life. Their attitude to a work-life balance is something which massively appeals, specifically the Swedes attitude to childcare and spending time with your children as they grow up. Fun things like neighbourhood picnics/BBQs etc where everyone contributes something to the party are hugely appealing too.
Already I’ve found myself following many of the Lagom practices subconsciously, and with a little help and co-operation from friends and family, I’m looking forward to making life a little more Lagom each day.