canoeing in the real de la quinta lake
08 Oct, 2018

Lagom: Not too little. Not too much. Just right.

Today we want to know a little bit more about this concept inherent in Swedish culture, which has a lot to do with our Real lifestyle and that will help us to live longer and better.

The philosophy of Lagom is probably why Sweden is one of the happiest countries in the world.

Lagom means just the right amount of everything (no excess of anything, no absence of anything), and its meaning contains the essence of this lifestyle that counteracts daily stress with moderation and calm.

It is applicable to any aspect of our day-to-day, from eating (eating in moderation, without excess) to well-being (practicing sports, mindfulness, appreciating silence and healthy relationships) and even goods use at home (reducing energy and water consumption, recycling, buying only what is needed).

The key to Lagom lies in practicing some guidelines to live in a more balanced way. It means avoiding extreme excess and limitation and knowing what really makes us happy and what is best for our emotional well-being. A lifestyle in which you do not have to give up to treat yourself without getting to excess.

According to Lola A. Åkerström, author of the book 'Lagom', everyone can incorporate similar aspects in their life. "The first thing is to identify sources of stress and try to reduce them. For example, getting rid of things -less is more- having a balance between work and life, looking for trustworthy relationships ".

It is also said that the Lagom philosophy is partly responsible for only 12.3 percent of the Swedish population over 15 years old being overweight. "They seem to find more balance between food and exercise than many other cultures."

When we take Lagom to a more personal level, we realise that happiness is not found in having everything. It is a call to moderation and balance. A lifestyle based on a world of balance and harmony, which is where virtue resides.

"What Lagom aspires in its deepest essence is to ensure that we compensate our needs in a way that is an invitation to peace and fulfilment, beyond what we want in life," writes Åkerström. “Lagom asks me to be more aware of my emotions, my body, and my well-being."

Here are some basic guidelines for practicing the Swedish secret of happiness:

• Silence is healthy

Avoid forced conversations and obvious comments. Enjoy silence. Silences are not uncomfortable, on the contrary, they are good for the brain and health, as several studies have confirmed. One of them, carried out by the University of Pavia (Italy) and  Oxford University, recommends keeping silence for 2 hours a day to reduce blood pressure, take care of the heart, promote concentration, reflect and generate new connections between neurons.

• Plan your shopping:

"Do not waste and you will not miss anything" - is what Lagom dictates, who advocates a meticulous approach to the use of money, avoiding falling in unnecessary expenses. It doesn't mean that investing should be restricted: in fact, Lagom defends that it is better to spend on something good and lasting - like a quality garment - than on something affordable and badly manufactured.

• Sustainable actions:

Having more control over natural resources is a fundamental part of Lagom. It is cold and we need to heat the home, but it is not necessary to have the heating to the limit. The same  case with air conditioning. It's about being a little more responsible with natural resources. In Sweden, recycling is well established - only 4% of garbage reaches dump sites, according to Åkerström. Even taxes on repairs have recently been lowered, and a shopping center for recycled products has been opened. In addition, little by little there are more packaging-free
 shops. The objective is to avoid the "use and throw" culture and, finally, to take care of our planet.

• Don't let your job take over your life:

Reconciling social life, leisure and work is a fundamental issue for Swedish people. They are able to make it by closing many of their businesses during the summer, when employees take four weeks on vacation; ending the shifts, at 5:00 p.m the latest,  making days more flexible; making telework possible; granting each parent 480 days of leave to care for their children; respecting the fika - a break that they take about three times during the shift to socialise around a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll - ... In fact, is in this country where several companies have established the six hour work day, and where at 18:00 - and, in many cases, during the weekend -, everything is usually closed.

• Be happy with what you have:

"When I have this, then ... I'll be happy." "When summer comes, then ... I'll finally be happy." "When I lose weight, then ..." Lagom dictates that we should be happy with what we have. It is not about being mediocre and being satisfied with everything, but about learning to enjoy life as it is presented to us. That's the secret.

• Sustainable food:

This philosophy considers an elite kitchen, but not simple, which tends to sustainable consumption, ethical and local, with a predominance of fresh and seasonal products. That's the way to make Lagom dishes, which is not afraid to reuse leftovers, and in fact, they even has a national dish based on them: pyttipanna.

The Scandinavian countries, despite the low temperatures, occupy almost permanently the first positions of the World Happiness Report rankings, the happiest countries in the world. The answer, no doubt, lies in this lifestyle that seeks balance even in the smallest things.