The world is embracing yet another Scandinavian concept: “lagom”. What does living the «lagom» life in Sweden mean?
Danish “hygge” and Swedish “fika” are both nice, but “lagom” is perhaps even better, in any case if you use private consumption and climate challenges as benchmarks. This is what Elliot Jay Stock says, who together with his wife Samantha Stock publishes the Bristol-based lifestyle magazine Lagom.
The Swedish word “lagom” translated into English is “just the right amount” or “not too much, not too little”. Just as we’re learning to decorate like Danes, using the word “hygge” as our guide, along comes another Scandinavian tranquility-producing concept.
Elliot Jay Stock learned about the Swedish word “lagom” from Swedish friends more than a decade ago, and says that the “lagom” mindset has become fashionable in Britain.
According to Wikipedia, the word can be variously translated as “in moderation”, “in balance”, “perfect-simple”, “just enough”, “ideal” and “suitable” (in matter of amounts). Whereas words like sufficient and average suggest some degree of abstinence, scarcity, or failure, lagom carries the connotation of appropriateness, although not necessarily perfection.
A way of life for Swedes for generations, the concept of living the lagom life has, within the last few years, evoked curiosity among Americans. An Amazon search yields no less than eleven recently published books dedicated to the subject.
Lagom magazine depicts a lifestyle that the middle class can also take part in, not the dream of the perfect life.
The archetypical Swedish proverb “Lagom är bäst”, literally “The right amount is best”, is also translated as “Enough is as good as a feast”, or as “There is virtue in moderation”.
There are now books instructing English speakers on how to apply the lagom concept in general, in interior design, cooking, fashion, and sustainable living.
The magazine Lagom is published twice a year, with a circulation of 6,000, and is intended as inspiration for creative people who want to start a pleasure-oriented side project, or who just want a break. It is sold in the British Isles, in Asia, Canada and several European countries, including Scandinavia.
When you feel like you have all that you need without the need for more. Then you understand what lagom is all about.
Living the Lagom Life in Sweden, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Illustration © IKEA