Meet Lagom, the Scandinavian Philosophy That Gets It Just Right

Looking for a lifestyle change? Well, taking note of some Scandi philosophies could be the key. But we're not talking about hygge. Check out all that lagom has to offer.

Trendy white lagom living room with simple wooden sofaPhoto: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

When it comes to the Swedes, we thoroughly appreciate their cozy conceptual export hygge (and those tasty meatballs!). But hygge—the feeling of comfort and hominess—isn’t the only Scandinavian principle we can get behind. Enter lagom, the Swedish philosophy that helps folks find balance in everyday life. Here’s what you need to know about lagom.

What does it mean?

Lagom literally translates from Swedish as “moderate,” but this word is packed with a whole lot more significance than that. Many loosely translate it as “not too little, not too much, just the right amount,” which, you have to agree, is altogether more poetic.

But enough with the technicalities already, let’s talk about what this Scandi lifestyle trend is all about. Rather than a mere flash in the pan, this theory is one that you can apply to your entire existence. It’s the opposite of excess, consumerism and overindulgence—instead focuses on enjoying small, simple pleasures in moderation.

In some senses, lagom may feel counterproductive, especially to the average American. We’re so often encouraged to do more and spend more to a achieve happy, fulfilled lifestyle. But, what if that’s all wrong? What if the secret to true, unbridled joy is about reigning in some of these tendencies in favor of self-restraint? That’s exactly the idea at the core of this philosophy—and maybe there’s something in it.

How to apply it to your life

Since this is a somewhat all-encompassing lifestyle philosophy, it can be applied to most areas, from the food you eat to what you wear. Here are just four simple ways that you may wish to inject a little lagom into your everyday life.

Home

Keeping your home clean, tidy and minimalist is a great start for a lagom home. However, lagom is about balance, so having too little and being too minimal is just as off base as filling your home with too much. To make your home feel most lagom, keep it organized and tidy and layer on small trinkets, decorations and ornaments. While your living spaces may look generally uncluttered, these little extras help create a homey feel and give your space personality.

Food

Forget Man vs. Food. Lagom is the opposite to that kind of wasteful excess. It’s all about eating well and balancing your diet as best you can, while occasionally enjoying simple indulgences. To live the Scandi way, enjoy simple comfort foods and occasionally treat yourself to a single piece of delicious chocolate (instead of the whole box).

Fashion

Scandanavians embrace the essence of lagom with the way they dress. The clothes are chic yet still serve a purpose. That means you aren’t likely to find many women in Stockholm strutting down the streets in stilettos in the height of winter, instead folks there embrace classic, utilitarian clothing with a dash of spice—who doesn’t love a beautiful scarf or handbag?

Now, how to pronounce it

Now that you know how to embrace the concept of lagom, it’s about time you learn to say it. If you spent months trying to master the pronunciation of the word hygge, we have some excellent news for you: This new trend is far, far easier to say. It’s phonetically spelled and said like lar-gomm. That means chit-chatting about it over dinner is going to be easier than stumbling over the whole hygge-hoogah situation!

To start living_ the lagom life, try a few of these healthy meals in a bowl—and if you’re craving sweets after, we won’t blame you if you sneak a small sliver of pie. It’s all about balance!

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Charlotte Grainger
Charlotte Grainger is a creative feature writer, with a flair for food, health and lifestyle pieces. Her work has been seen in a number of national publications including Beyond Words Magazine, Reader's Digest and Psychologies. When she’s not typing away, you can find her trying out new recipes or binging Netflix shows— sometimes simultaneously.