3 Simple Ways To Increase Your Happiness: The Swedish Art of Lagom

Do you ever feel like you have too much of some things and not enough of others? Perhaps too much clutter and not enough open space? Too much to do and not enough time to do it? Too much stress and not enough calm? 

If these challenges seem overwhelming, consider adopting lagom, a Swedish lifestyle that translates to “having just the right amount – not too much, and not too little.” 

Many believe that the word lagom comes from the time when Swedish farmers and Vikings shared drinks communally from the same horn or bowl. In this sense, lagom is seen as a force for good, connecting people to place and community, both crucial ingredients to the Swedish way of life. 

What can we learn from the land of deliberate design, minimalist décor, and IKEA?

If we think of lagom as a process whereby one de-clutters and simplifies life in order to increase emotional wellbeing, what’s not to like?  When we feel like we belong in our space, have balance in our life, and a shared responsibility to our community, we tend to feel better. 

Why do we go overboard into excess when we know what is just right and enough? 

Is it societal pressure to consume? The ease in which we can purchase goods 24/7? Our inability to make decisions (and stick with them) about our belongings? Is it all of the above?!

By implementing the lagom lifestyle into our lives, our levels of happiness can increase. By having a more lagom life, we are apt to feel more connected, intentional and purposeful. Benefits include:

  • physical: less material obsession, consumption and cleaning, more space, calm and confidence 
  • mental: less mind spiraling, increased focus and creativity, more conscious choices
  • financial: more savings as consumption decreases, thriftier, increased re-use of items 

According to Niki Brantmark, author of Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much,“Lagom is about finding a balance that works for you. It encourages curiosity and experimentation versus rigid definitions of what “just right” looks and feels like. It is individual.”

Brantmark’s top three lagom suggestions:

1. Streamline your bedroom: Create a clean, calm space that de-clutters your mind and restores your body so you feel organized. Only keep out the essentials. 

2. Keep your space clutter-free:  Manage the reality (and overwhelm) of clutter by putting items away, or in a basket/bag so they can be put away later. Donate/sell/discard what’s not being used. 

3. Make sustainability a priority. Less lights, more candles, less plastic, more re-usable mugs, bottles and bags, shop gently used, and eat your leftovers! 

“Applying a sense of lagom to our everyday lives—in how we live, work, eat and play – might just be the trick for embracing a more balanced, sustainable lifestyle that welcomes the joy of existence rather than those of consumption”, states Anna Brones in her book Live Lagom.

As an organizer and educator,  I work with people who would like to feel as if they have “just the right amount” in their home, which often translates into some form of de-cluttering, organizing and downsizing. By adopting the Swedish lagom approach, we can all work towards living a more balanced and sustainable life, on our own terms.  

Want more lagom in your life? Let’s chat!