Lagom: the new hygge

In 2017, look to Swe­den (and Goldilocks) for your new fast-track to true hap­pi­ness

Women's Health Australia - - CONTENTS - By Alex Davies

Even too much hygge can be a bad thing. Dis­cover bal­ance, Nordic-style

LLast year saw us all em­brace hygge with teen-at-a-bieber-show en­thu­si­asm. The well­be­ing ap­proach – cen­tred on cosi­ness and cake – caught on light­ning­fast, ce­ment­ing Nordic na­tions as the go-to spots for happy liv­ing. So, what’s the Scandi-in­spired trend for 2017? That’d be lagom (law-gom), the Swedish con­cept for a mind­set that en­cour­ages you to rel­ish that cake, but not ev­ery sin­gle day; to talk, but also em­brace com­fort­able si­lences; to dec­o­rate your unit, but not go OTT. In short, to strike bal­ance in your life. “I trans­late it as ‘Not too much, not too lit­tle, just right’,” says Anna Brones, the Swedish-amer­i­can au­thor of Live Lagom: Bal­anced Liv­ing, The Swedish

Way. Seems Goldilocks was onto some­thing, then. “Take the US, which isn’t a mod­er­ate cul­ture in a lot of ways – the food is big and the per­son­al­i­ties are big – and I think, for a Swede, it just feels a bit too much. That sense of lagom is about the mid­dle ground.”

Lola A. Åk­er­ström, au­thor of Lagom: The Swedish Se­cret Of Liv­ing

Well, prefers to de­fine lagom as ‘op­ti­mal’ rather than ‘ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion’. “It means that what­ever de­ci­sion you make is the very best for you or the group,” she ex­plains. “‘Mod­er­a­tion’ has more neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions like mid­dleof-the-road, medi­ocre or aus­tere, whereas look­ing at lagom as ‘op­ti­mal’ car­ries a more holis­tic view of the choices we make in our lives.”

Tak­ing stock

Aim­ing for that lagom-in­spired mid­dle ground has ma­jor well­be­ing-boost­ing po­ten­tial. Rather than

go­ing to ex­cess, we’re able to find our happy place in what we al­ready have. “I have a friend who calls it ‘healthy he­do­nism’,” says Brones. “For ex­am­ple, it’s pretty un­com­mon to find a Swedish per­son who’ll have a glass of wine with din­ner on a week­day, but they’ll cer­tainly have an enor­mous din­ner party on the week­end. You live with a lit­tle bit of re­straint but also al­low your­self to let loose and you don’t feel bad about it. You ap­pre­ci­ate the mo­ment and find gen­uine en­joy­ment in that.”

Åk­er­ström adds that a lagom mind­set is about tak­ing care of what you value – and this in­cludes nix­ing the un­nec­es­sary. “When it comes to decor, lagom morphs into a ‘less is more’ ethos that pares things down to either func­tional items or ones with sen­ti­men­tal value. Those are the things to take care of and ev­ery­thing else can be con­sid­ered ex­cess.” The same, she ex­plains, can be said for re­la­tion­ships, where you prioritise a close-knit squad.

The place to start? Ac­tu­ally ask your­self what’s im­por­tant to you. “Usu­ally the an­swer is about fam­ily or some­thing like spend­ing time in na­ture or pur­su­ing a creative thing that ful­fils us,” says Brones. “If we ask our­selves these ques­tions, we re­alise we live a life of lux­ury in com­par­i­son to a large part of the global pop­u­la­tion. Be aware of that fact and ul­ti­mately know we’re all part of a larger com­mu­nity. The Swedish model is very much about fos­ter­ing the com­mon good.”

Heart of it

Let’s be clear: Swedes don’t all live this way and the coun­try has is­sues like any other, so Brones is keen not to over-ro­man­ti­cise their way of do­ing things. Ul­ti­mately, she points out, liv­ing a more bal­anced, lagom life comes down to things that we al­ready know are good for us: sim­pli­fy­ing, slow­ing down and be­ing truly present.

“I think these are things we’re all work­ing on, all the time, and it can be dif­fi­cult putting them into prac­tice. But for me, the take­away is think­ing less about what you don’t have – whether it’s food or what­ever – and more about how to ap­pre­ci­ate what you do have, and be­ing mind­ful of that.” And if that means we still get to have our cake and eat it, too, then we’re all for it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.