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Op/Ed

Learning lagom: How the Swedish teach us to live with just enough

The minimalism movement was heavily inspired by the Nordic countries of Europe, and they truly embody the art of lagom through the practice.

Person working at desk representing holiday office party

Are you more of a minimalist – someone who wants as little stuff filling their lives and homes as possible – or a maximalist, someone who wants to be surrounded by things that make them happy?

For many people, we fall somewhere in between.

We want to have what we need to get through the day and some things that make our little hearts happy, but don’t want to be tripping over stuff that we haven’t looked at in three years. Some, like me, gather lots of stuff and then decide to purge it once or twice a year during spring cleaning and fall cleaning. Fall cleaning is a phrase I’ve begun using for that time of the year when you’re stuck inside from bad weather and get sick of looking at your house, so you start decluttering.

These questions have universal meanings and you will find different takes on them throughout different cultures. Have you heard the phrase “You can never have too much of a good thing?” Well, one could argue that it is in fact pretty easy to have too much of a good thing.

When the stuff in your life stops serving you and becomes more of an inconvenience than it’s worth, it may be time to re-evaluate.

Since the ongoing global pandemic started in 2020, people have been spending more time at home than ever before, some staying in to stay safe and “stop the spread” while others have started positions working from home either temporarily or permanently.

This has had ramifications for myself and others like me, in which we were forced to take a look around at our items and decide what gets to stay, and what we can get rid of, in order to make our homes more livable and easy to navigate. It also showed us that spending time with loved ones and enjoying something as simple as a phone call or a meal together can make a huge difference, sparking happiness that the latest gadget could never hope to bring.

The Swedish seem to have been well ahead of the curve in figuring this out. They have a term called lagom, which refers to ‘living with just enough.’ Their phrase lagom translates to “just the right amount.” In a world that is so focused on the next best thing and having more than the neighbors, we could all do with getting back to that feeling of contentment from having what we need to be comfortable, no more and no less.

Allison Snider is a freelance writer and owner of AllieWritesCreatively. She is passionate about raising awareness for chronic illnesses and ending the stigma around mental health. In her free time, you can find Allison hiking with her wife, Sara, and two dogs, Stella and Sophie.

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