LAGOM: What Can The Swedes Teach Us?

Lagom book review

Move over hygge. Our friends from Sweden have a new word set to take the world by storm.

Over the last two years, the world became obsessed with one Scandinavian word, helping to shift thousands of books, scented candles and cozy sweatshirts all in the name of hygge. It defined the simple pleasure Scandinavians take in making things cosy.

But now another important aspect of Scandinavian approach to life is taking centre-stage, and its all thanks to a Swedish word. Is lagom the next Scandinavian word set to take over the world? Let's find out…

Stockholm photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström has a keen eye for what makes Swedes tick, so much so that she's published a book all about this one peculiar word. Lagom is available now from Amazon.

The meaning of lagom

It might only be five letters long, but the word means different things to different people: “If I were describing something to you and say it was lagom, my idea of the ‘perfect' lagom state may not necessarily equate to the exact same state for you. Yet, the presence of the word in my sentence instantly connects both our ideals of what lagom means and you move into that mental space of recognition.”

So, what does it mean? The closest translation into English is ‘moderation', or ‘just enough'. Think frugality, fairness, and all things equal. Everyone's favourite Swedish furniture store has started a ‘Live lagom' project, to encourage their shoppers to live “a more sustainable, healthy and cost-conscious life at home without a dramatic upheaval”.

Åre in Central Sweden
Åre in Central Sweden

Inside the book

What's most interesting from my perspective as a foreigner living in Norway is that the book was written not by a native Swede, but by a foreigner living in Sweden. Lola takes a journalistic approach to describing the concept, and the story is told through the eyes of someone who has worked hard to understand the word over the past few years.

“Sweden is sometimes called landet lagom (the Lagom Land) by Swedes because lagom has fundamentally been accepted as the way of life in the country, To live like a Swede means to adopt cultural elements of lagom in various aspects of our lives. When it comes to tempering our emotions, lagom takes on the shape of moderation without extravagance.”

As I turned page after page, I couldn't help but think of the similarities to janteloven, in terms of a concept that moderates behaviour. Almost as if the book was reading my mind, the very next page brought up that very same comparison!

Could you do with a little lagom in your life? Grab the book now from Amazon

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

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