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Lagom: Mastering Minimalism

Reading Linnea Dunne’s book Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living, was where my journey began. I handed Mr. Ecologico the book (after reading it in one sitting!) and simply said “This is how I want to live my life.” From balanced co-parenting, better productivity at work, capsule wardrobing, minimalist furnishing, mindful mental health…(need I go on?), I was totally sold on the idea of Lagom.

Lagom is a Swedish term, roughly translated means “not too little, not too much – just right”; if everyone takes a lagom amount from life, they will be content. Lagom encourages us to create a happy life by choosing to live a balanced and fruitful existence.

Lagom is all about mindful living; frugality, stress reduction, striking the perfect balance between work and play (if that's possible!) and focusing on environmental concerns and sustainability.

The Swedish proverb, “Lagom är bäst”, literally means, “The right amount is best” but is also translated as “Enough is as good as a feast” and “There is virtue in moderation.” Isn’t this a wonderful philosophy to live by as we fight through the minefield that is 'zero waste?' It’s not about perfection, it’s about balance. Lagom is the opposite of the consumerism and materialism that surrounds our culture.

For me, Lagom is about minimalism in possessions but a fuller life overall. Lagom is keeping track of our finances, thrifting, upcycling furniture, consciously reducing your environmental impact on the world, taking purposeful breaks from work, spending quality time with family and friends, focusing on what is absolutely essential, and knowing when to stop. I would urge anyone who likes the sound of this to read up about it further, but here are some quick takeaway tips you can use in everyday life to encourage a more sustainable, more contented, way of life:

Repurpose: Upcycling, recycling and using sustainable materials where possible is the way to enjoy the home comforts you love, without taking too much from the planet. But also Swedes are great at repurposing food; using leftovers to create wonderful meals or reimagining an old item of clothing to create a fresh new outfit.

Re-evaluate: The perfect example of this is the capsule wardrobe: a minimalist, highly practical collection, devoid of unused items and full of a limited number of quality, loved, versatile garments, making it easier to manage; less time and energy washing, shopping and dressing. It is economical, sustainable and mindful.

If you want some more tips on this, check out my Lenten Fashion Fast blog.

Once you start, this art of re-evaluating what you actually need is easily applicable to other areas of life too.

Relax: A recent study found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break. Of course, not all jobs allow for this, but it’s worth thinking about—and keeping it in mind, especially now homeworking is going to be normal for some of us! In Sweden, the fika (coffee break) is sacred. Take proper breaks to get some fresh air, have a chat with colleagues and refocus. You will feel better for it and you will be more productive when you return to working.

Work-life balance is something I have struggled with in the past, but now we have Squishy and Red, I am so mindful of being present with them and balancing work and home life better. I stick to lunch breaks, not checking my emails in 'home-time' and regular short desk-breaks (for a glass of water or a stretch) to keep me motivated and productive at work.

Outside of work, find time to relax and explore nature. Walks, holidaying in your home country, baking, crafting, time out with family and friends playing board games or having a nice meal (bonus points for a picnic!) are all great, sustainable ways to relax and rejuvenate.

Reconnect: The focus of Lagom, much like the Danish concept of Hygge, is togetherness. Spending time with those you love, but quality time. That means phones at the door, TV off, no distractions It's playing games, making or doing things together, enjoying each other's company and giving your full focus to the people in front of you. This strengthens relationships and improves both your and their sense of wellbeing.

I could go on about Lagom; there's so much more to say but hopefully, even the few tips here have given you some food for thought about how you live your life and how you want to live your life.

Happy Lagomming! ✌️💚