Let’s take a minute to talk about happiness. At the root of everything, it’s what we all want, and the Swedes certainly seem to have a leg up on most of us. While no country is perfect across the board, Sweden has consistently ranked in the top ten of the world’s happiest countries. So, what’s their secret? According to some Swedes, it’s a Scandinavian practice called lagom.
Lagom is a term that doesn’t translate well in English, but has a lot to do with teamwork and balance, where everyone in a culture agrees to do the right thing because it’s right for everyone, where extremes are frowned upon and “just enough” is always the best option. If you pick up any book with a Swedish author, you’re bound to see this word come up more than once, but Linnea Dunne’s Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living is a book that focuses solely on demonstrating the practice in all aspects of Swedish life.
The book starts out fairly well, defining the term the best it can for something that doesn’t translate into American English, particularly the U.S. culture, which is easily at the other end of the spectrum in terms of cultural relation. Dunne succeeds in applying lagom to things like eating, socializing, dressing, and home décor, among other things, but the material is incredibly dense, and at times it’s difficult to absorb.
Every section is incredibly short, and if you’re looking for a general application of lagom, this book is definitely a great source. I found several exercises and practices that seem practical, appealing, and exciting and will likely try to incorporate them into my life. That being said, she brings up examples in one sentence and completely abandons them in the next, moving quickly to another topic. I was left wanting to know more. So, if you’re looking for a comprehensive explanation of lagom as it is practiced, this is probably not the book for you.
If lagom interests you, there is definitely opportunity to research it further. There is no shortage of examples that will leave you wanting to explore more. This may or may not be a good thing. The good news is, the more you read about lagom from other sources, the easier it is to understand, and it’s very exciting. The logic behind this lifestyle is sound, though at times is completely at odds with consumerism and makes it difficult to apply in everyday life. But, one step at a time. Lagom is not the only way to achieve happiness, but it will certainly leave you making conscious decisions about the way you live your life and that is absolutely the first step in discovering what happiness is to you. If you find lagom a bit overwhelming, try applying it to one aspect of your life at a time. I mean, who wouldn’t want to devote a day to vegging on the couch binging on Netflix, eating junk food EVERY WEEK (the lagom practice of fredagsmys)?
As an added note on the aesthetics of this book, every section has col , s to explore another culture whose people have proven to the world time and time again that they know a little something about the art of happiness.
Do you have any tips or tricks that bring you happiness? Lagom or not, I want to hear them! Please comment below and check out other media reviews on Fully and Well and don’t forget to subscribe for e-mail updates when new articles are posted!