Lagom (LAH-gum), which translates to “not too little, not too much – just right,” is the Swedish philosophy of moderation, the key to maintaining a healthy brain and a happy life.
While cultivating a happy life balance may sound simple and straightforward, practicing lagom amidst the day-to-day chaos of life is a skill that takes practice.
A big part of the lagom ideal, an aspect that often clashes with American culture, is focusing on the here and now rather than looking for the next best thing.
Loosely translated, the Swedish proverb “Lagom är bäst” means “enough is as good as a feast.”
Sweden is regularly ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world in spite of the fact they often experience brutal winters and fewer hours of sunlight for much of that time.
Lagom Can Lead to Better Mental Health
Constantly comparing oneself to others or feeling chronically unsatisfied with life can lead directly to poor mental health.
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States, affecting more than 17 million adults each year, reports the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
People struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues suffer higher rates of physical illnesses, substance abuse, unemployment and financial instability, all of which can create a destructive cycle that’s difficult to break.
Learning to practice lagom is incredibly beneficial in developing and sustaining good mental health and a positive life balance.
Here are a few tips for getting into a lagom style frame of mind…
1. Practice Moderation
It can be extremely beneficial to practice moderation, not only with the big things in life, but also with the small things.
For instance, if you normally drink five cups of coffee every morning and feel jittery, cut your caffeine intake by two cups and pay attention to the way “less” might make you feel better.
That may seem overly simplistic, but that is lagom. Less of a everything might just be the perfect amount for balance. Practicing moderation with drinking alcohol is even more important than with coffee.
2. Simplify Your Life
Simplifying your life is a concept that can range from thinning out a closet cluttered with old, unused items of clothing to spending less time with toxic friends that engage in self-destructive behavior.
Simplicity is a main key for stability and it’s fairly simple to make it a habit over time. Start slowly and tackle one task at a time to simplify.
3. Alone Time
Carving out productive and peaceful alone time is an exceptional way to improve mental health.
Sometimes a quiet hiking trail or a few minutes spent in mindful meditation is all it takes to connect with how we’re truly feeling.
Alone time provides clarity for the many choices we make each day and is an oustanding way to alleviate stress and anxiety. We have to take care of ourselves first before we can be any value for helping others.
4. Be Kind
Always make a point of being kind to others. This might be as simple as listening to a friend who needs to talk, volunteering for a local charity, or complimenting colleagues on their work.
Kindness sparks joy in both the giver and the receiver and is one of the hallmarks of living a happy life.
Indulging in gratitude has been proven to lead to a happier and healthier life.
Circumstances might not always be exactly how we want them to be, but taking the time to be thankful for the many things we do have, like family, friends, hobbies or our health is an excellent way to achieve a healthy brain, happy life.
For those looking for ideas of where to begin, here are 31 things to be grateful for and why gratitude matters.
Happy Life Balance Philosophies Around the World
The Swedes aren’t the only ones attempting to find the perfect happy life balance.
The Japanese have Ikigai or “a reason for being,” a concept for adopting a sense of purpose as a means to finding balance in life.
There is also Hygge, the Danish philosophy of staying “warm and cozy” and promoting “wellbeing” to cope with the long, dark winter months.
Denmark is a close neighbor of Sweden and also one of the happiest countries in the world.
Whether it’s lagom or another philosophy, putting the practice of finding balance in life front and center, and making it a daily endeavor will transform not only the way you feel, but how you move through the world and affect the lives of those you come into contact with.
Niki Brantmark has written an excellent book for those who would like to learn more. “Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life,” is available on Amazon in hardcover, Kindle, and several audio versions.