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‘Lagom’, The Balanced Swedish Way Of Life That Has No Direct English Translation
By Yoon Sann Wong, 21 Jan 2018
Some of you might have heard of the term ‘hygge’—pronounced “hoo-gah”—before. This Danish concept of living cozily grew in popularity in 2016, with books sharing the joys of decluttering sprouting up on shelves.
Unlike this wellness trend, however, ‘Lagom’—pronounced “lah-gom”—is a way of life for the Swedes that’s ingrained in their identity.
Author Niki Brantmark first came across the term after she traded her hectic London life for a beachside hamlet in Malmö, Sweden, 13 years ago.
“People kept saying this word lagom, and I thought, what is this strange word? It’s like it was in the air and they would use it as casually in conversation as they would please and thank you,” recounts Brantmark to Condé Nast Traveler.
“The interesting thing about the word lagom is that there’s no direct translation in English,” continues the interior design blogger.
“A good way to describe it would be everything in moderation, not too much, not too little, just the right amount.”
Brantmark learnt to embrace lagom in her daily life through years spent living in Sweden, and eventually penned a book called Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life.
“The Swedes apply lagom to every aspect of life,” says Brantmark. “So you can work a lagom amount, you can eat a lagom amount, you can dress a lagom amount. It’s all about maintaining an equilibrium.”
27-year-old Sabrin Shebly explains lagom from a native’s persepctive, “Growing up here, I was taught by my teachers that everything needs to be lagom... They would even use an expression, lagom är bäst, meaning ‘lagom is best,’ and it really is this idea of everything not just in moderation but the perfect amount.”
She gives an example using something as simple as ordering coffee at a café, “Say you take cream in your coffee, and the server asks how much cream you’d like. You would just say lagom. That’s it, lagom. And it’s just understood—not too much cream, not too little, just the perfect amount.”
Shelby, who works as a dentist, says her appreciation for lagom has deepened through the years as it is “the closest path to a long-term, sustainable, healthy and happy, balanced life.”
Both Brantmark and Shelby acknowledge that the principles surrounding this way of life can be applied regardless of where you live.
Continue reading to discover these methods, including leaving your desk for lunch daily.
[via Condé Nast Traveler, image via Shutterstock]
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