How to live like the Swedes

“Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life” by Niki Brantmark

Sometimes, we can just tell how advanced a society is just by looking from their philosophy. And the clearer the philosophy is, the easier it is for the people to live it. This is what Lagom is for Sweden.

Lagom is a Swedish philosophy of moderation – not too much, not too little, just right – where it is embodied in pretty much every aspect of their lives. And Niki Brantmark has done an excellent work to fully describe it.

The book itself is a reflection of Lagom, where the contents are not too little, not too much, just right, and they are broken down into many little stand out headings, which makes it easier to read and comprehend. And while Lagom is the traditional philosophy for Sweden, we, the rest of the world, can too live with the minimalist and no-nonsense approach like the Swedes. This is why this book is very important and valuable.

The book covers everything imaginable about the Swedish culture. Things like minimalist interior design, on healing stress with nature, on the importance of sleep and pre-bed time rituals, cold shower, sauna, physical happiness, working environment and culture in Sweden, work-life balance, the clothes that we wear, and reasons to wake up early (Sweden is a nation of early risers).

It is also about developing a friendship with a Swede, being punctual, Swedish desserts and coffee, weddings (including preparations and the charming wedding games), parenting, how they educate their children, even how to battle climate change, reduce waste, and save the world’s resources by recycling everything from garbage to buy secondhand, from riding a bike to carpooling, and so much more.

I especially like their Lagom ideas on what we eat, which is in contrast with the current all-or-nothing diet fads. Yes the Swedes keep a balanced diet, they also try to stay healthy, but they still eat their cinnamon bun alongside their salad. You know, not too much, not too little. They also not restricting children from eating sweets, but of course only in moderation (and only on Saturdays).

And if you want to have equality between men and women, then provide the same facilities, support, and even equal maternity leave so that dads can share the parenting duties 50-50, while treating newborn babies equally from day 1 regardless of the gender. This is why Sweden is one of the most progressive countries in the world.

Moreover, it feels like living life with Lagom can put off so much pressure from us. Kids only learn things when they’re ready, there’s no need to keep up with the latest trends if it’s not convenient, and by all means work hard but when the clock strikes at 5 PM, go home and relax. It’s also about sharing the burden: A house party is a collective thing, where guests bring their own things, they each takes turn for the music and the entertainment. Even in a sleepover guests bring their own linen so it eases the burden on the host.

Therefore, by implementing Lagom we can be kinder and gentler to ourselves and our surroundings. And a society filled with Lagom is also a society that care about our well being and happiness, like a warm and caring grandmother looking out for the whole family. No wonder that Sweden is among the happiest nations on earth.