I have a confession to make. Even though over 20 books were written about hygge in the last few years, I never got the Danish hygge buzz. While I’m as guilty as the next person of wanting to inject some of that effortlessly cool Scandinavian style into my life, hygge seemed a step too far into twee territory for my liking.
If you somehow missed the hygge train, let me fill you in. Lifestyle trend hygge has been described as the Danish secret to happiness. Put simply, hygge is that warm cosy feeling. Think warm blankets, candlelight, hot chocolate. It’s that Christmas feeling all year long.
I love the idea of that cosy vibe but the older I get, the more I appreciate using what I’ve got, as opposed to the pursuit of more, and that’s why when I heard about another buzz-worthy lifestyle trend that’s about less is more, I sat up and paid attention. Say hello to Swedish lagom.
According to Google, searches for ‘lagom’ reached an all-time high in 2017. So, what is Swedish lagom and how is it different from hygge? Well, unlike hygge, which is all about soft faux fur finishes and pretty fairy lights, Swedish lagom is minimalist in spirit. The word itself translates as ‘just right’ and the lagom mindset is about everything in moderation, having just the right amount instead of overkill. It isn’t dubbed ‘the Goldilocks lifestyle’ for nothing.
While hygge is about the little extras to brighten your day, lagom is about keeping it simple for a happier life long-term. Whereas you can easily switch hygge on (it’s as simple as lighting a scented candle or sipping a turmeric latte), you can’t really apply a tiny bit of lagom to your life. Instead, it’s a back-to-basics way of living that revolves around what you need, rather than what you want, and stopping when satisfied. Do you really need another black top from Zara? Another red lipstick you’ll wear once and then lose in a taxi?
You could easily confuse lagom with student-style frugality but lagom really isn’t about depriving yourself of all the fun things in life. Instead, lagom is about being less materialistic and investing in experiences and memories instead of objects. As I mentioned in my post on beating the January blues, I have been on a massive de-cluttering binge since Christmas and, whereas in my twenties I took pleasure looking at the volume of things I had amassed – including joy when my wardrobe finally collapsed under the weight of my clothes – now in my thirties, I feel a growing sense of horror about owning and defining my worth with so much stuff.
Unlike hygge which typically involves buying pretty new things for your home, lagom is about buying less and using what you’ve got. This is why lagom has really struck a chord with me. Being environmentally-conscious is a big slice of the lagom lifestyle, too. Interiors giant IKEA even has a Live Lagom campaign encouraging customers to choose sustainability over fast trends. Choose what you love, what you need and make it last and you’ve got the lagom mindset in the bag.
Want more tips to start living the lagom lifestyle? Recycle, reuse, buy less, buy food with less packaging, buy local produce, take shorter showers, buy books second-hand (yes, that even means the definitive lagom book ‘Lagom’ by Linnea Dunne) or join a library – all these small actions add up to the lagom lifestyle. Download Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying (or borrow a copy from the library for extra lagom points) and purge the clothes, books and household items you no longer really need or love. If, like me, you’ve been struggling with defining yourself through clothes – or specifically, buying clothes you really don’t love or need – I’ve read this Man Repeller feature by Danielle Prescod on her dramatic closet clear-out at least three times so you might relate to it too.
Work/life balance is another area where the lagom lifestyle comes into its own. Converts to this minimalist way of living don’t believe in staying late at the office merely for extra brownie points from the boss or working through your lunch break. Instead, it’s quality over quantity and all about not letting one aspect of your life – whether it’s your job, your fitness routine, your relationship – override all else. The key point is finding the right balance and finding joy in what you’ve already got.
Sure, Lagom isn’t as Instagrammable as hygge but, at a time when most of us feel a bit overwhelmed and burnt out, lagom could be ‘just enough’ of what we really need.
Still curious about lagom? Here’s a great piece offering more ways to introduce the lagom lifestyle and create a more balanced life for yourself. If you’re looking for more wellness tips, check out my previous post on beating the January blues or my tips for quitting caffeine.