Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living Book Review
I really love the concept both, this book, and the actual word, are trying to forward to the reader, which is: cherish what you have and the people you love, improve your work-life balance, become a more conscious consumer, declutter your home, live a happier life, enjoy healthy exercise in nature. The only reasons I’m giving 4 stars, is because on a lot of occasions the Sweedish lifestyle is advertised too much in the pages of the book.
Title: Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living
Author: Linnea Dunne
Year: Published: 17/10/2017
Length: 160 pages
Genre: Health, Self-help, Nonfiction
Get a copy: 1) Search in local bookstores to support small business 2) Amazon
Short Description: A book that presents the Swedish concept of Lagom (pronounced “lah-gom”) roughly translates to “not too little, not too much, just right.” The current world is becoming a battleground of companies, fighting for market share and for our trust. This little book offers a way to immune yourself to the constant urge for wanting more, a way to be happier, healthier and much more satisfied with having “just right” amount of possessions.
The little book about big life changes. With great illustrations and a lot of examples, this book introduces readers to a new way of balanced living that promises happiness and sustainability in work and in life. The simple solutions shared in this book will help you find a peaceful place in the current jungle we are living in: reduce stress, eat well, and save money, with lessons on the importance of downtime, being outdoors.
With seemingly endless financial, emotional, and environmental benefits, Lagom presents an accessible and all-encompassing lifestyle that is sure to inspire mindfulness, well-being, and contentment.
Overall, the book is not bad at all. The idea the author, Linnea Dunne, is trying to convey to the reader is pretty honourable – get used to living with less, enjoy what you have, understand that more things are actually bad for you.
The book focuses a lot on the Swedish lifestyle, which is ok, but at times the text sound more like an advertisement than anything else – pack your bag and go live in Sweden. Something I didn’t quite like. Surely, Sweden is a great country. You can’t argue with that. It’s among the top ten countries in the World Happiness Report, IKEA’s birthplace, offering amazing landscape, nature etc. Still, the exaggerations from the author are a bit too much and sometimes even annoying.
What I did like is the second message communicated to the reader – protect the mother nature. As I already mentioned, many of the things included in the book will teach you how to live with less. This also includes how to save electricity, money, food, which is written in a sense to save our world. To become more aware of how consumerism is destroying what we have, what we take for granted, and to start doing something about the good.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the consumerism, all the requirements foisted by the society, and you’re looking for a way to let loose of things that are only making things worse, take this book and go on a journey for finding the “right amount” of everything.
These are my notes, the most insightful things, for me, that I would really like to remember from this book:
What Exactly is Lagom
There isn’t an exact equivalent in the English language for the word, lagom. The closest definition is this one: “not too little, not too much, but just enough.” Imagine eating the right amount of food or buying a practical car. Even though it’s not the most beautiful on the market, it’s exactly what you need. At the end, the car is just a car, it’s purpose is to take you from point A to point B without the hassle. Lagom is also widely translated as “in moderation”, “in balance”, “perfect-simple”.
Lagom – a salvation for our current culture and the way we perceive the world, happiness, success. One word that describes what should be corrected in our behaviour, which is a constant desire for more clothes, more money, more friends, more likes, more, stuff. Lagom preaches balance. A chance to separate the necessary from the “I can live without” things.
We need balance in every aspect of our lives. This also includes the financial one. Simply, right now we, people, put on pedestal money, fame, and all the things we don’t have but money can buy. Quite a destructive behaviour if you ask me.
The constant desire for more money turns into permanent dissatisfaction no matter the successes one reaches. It’s like an endless loop of wanting more things. This is where lagom comes to the rescue. Offering moderation and balanced way of living. I encourage you to install this way of thinking and acting in your daily life. It will save you tons of money, time, frustration, but above all, it will give you a piece of mind and a better life.
Making life less complicated
You must say “stop” when you’ve had enough.
Life is already too complicated. There are thousands of things fighting for our attention daily: social media interactions, live interactions, pressure coming from our regular jobs, family members, friends, society as a whole. I recently spent more than 30 hours choosing a new laptop. That’s insane. That’s a huge waste. That’s also not lagom. I simply wanted to find the perfect product for the money I was about to spend. Ok, but at what cost? I was off balance.
No stress, no squander, simple focus towards things that matter. That’s what I need, you need, everybody needs.
What are the benefits of a lagom lifestyle:
- Physical space – Choosing to go with a clean design is probably the best decision you can go with. Removing what you don’t need will free space in your office, home, even your car. Allowing you to live in a more peaceful place.
- Mental space – Isn’t it crowded? I mean, in your head? An authentic and focused way of living is like a mythical creature – no one has ever seen it in real life, but everyone is talking about it. Our minds are often busier than the LAX airport. Learn to step back and stop your mind from being overcrowded by things that don’t matter.
- Improved lifestyle – Becoming extremely conscious about how you spend your money, will evolve to a more peaceful, secure, satisfied lifestyle. It’s not about having the latest gadget on the market, it’s about having the right amount of things that are practical.
More room for “Me Time”
As a person who considers himself a bookworm, I can’t agree more with the author about this idea.
Being alone with yourself, and your own thoughts is an outdated way of living. People love to be around others. In most of the cases, they’re not in the same room, still, being left alone is considered as a decrease.
The huge benefit of living in the 21st century is owning a smartphone, which is connected to the internet. This device gives you endless possibilities: connection with other people around the world, opportunity to work, a source of knowledge, being able to purchase goods and etc. Even though the benefits are immense, there is one huge downside – you forget that being alone is something of a great importance for our personal development.
Clearing your schedule for your personal projects is the best give you can give to yourself. It’s hard to focus when notifications and messages are constantly popping on your screen. That’s why you should always find time for your own needs. Switch off your phone, block social media and give yourself a couple of hours to do the things you really want to do.
Why? Well, because 21st century has its other benefits. It’s never been easier to create something great and turn it into your way of living. We simply have to disconnect ourselves from the online world and find peace with ourselves.
If you open the closet right now, how many things you will find in just a few minutes that you haven’t worn for the past year? I bet there will be more than one. I actually think that 50% of your clothes are simply taking space. I know this because the same applies to my clothes, my wife clothes, and for everybody I know’s clothes.
A challenge shared by the author in the book is of arithmetic progression cleansing. Meaning, removing one item on day one, two on day two and so on until the month is over. This is a great way to free space in your house and also in your mind. I am considering doing this the following month – January of 2018.
Functional mindset is not only about throwing stuff. It’s also about buying more practical stuff. Instead of owning 10 different jeans, leave only two pairs. When you go to the mall, think function, instead of looks. Ask yourself: “Are these going to match my other clothes? Do I really need it?” Make your wardrobe small but functional and buy new clothes only when you really need them, not because there is a new trend. In my past life, was influenced by the fashion trends, which led to acquiring many clothes that I’ve worn only once or twice. Huge waste of money and time to pick these clothes. Now, my wardrobe is narrowed, which actually much better than having a ton of clothes. I have all required essentials, but I don’t freak out every time I have to go out. Not that I still don’t have things I don’t wear, but they are less than before.
Try applying the same technique to everything. Focus on practical, affordable gadgets, you don’t have to necessarily buy the most expensive TV in the store. First, ask yourself what are you going to do with that TV, or, do you really need a television in the first place?
Adopting Lightweight Thinking
Since lagom is all about living a more balanced life, we surely have to mention adopting recycling habits. The book is full of tips and suggestions showing you how to protect the planet. Something we’re neglecting lately – like in the last 200+ years.
Recycling and using renewable energy are the two major weapons protecting the ozone layer. These two, however, are things at a higher level. Something that the government should take care of. You can still help, though. What you can personally do to support the initiative for protecting the mother earth is a list of little things that will have a significant impact. The author has scattered a lot of tips throughout the book, here are my takeaways:
- Use reusable water bottles – This will prevent you from buying glass or aluminium cans.
- Recycle your waste – Throw your waste in the correct department, always.
- Plastbanta – Or, “plastic detox.” When you are in a shop and you are considering purchasing something made out of plastic, think about alternatives – “Is there a non-plastic alternative to the product you’ve picked?”
- Cycle – Buy a bicycle and use it on a daily basis. Use the public transport whenever you can’t cycle.
- Buy Less – Buy enough food, clothes, basically, buying enough from everything will mean less trash.
Swedes actually have a special word for the last bullet – köpstopp. It’s forbidding yourself from purchasing anything, anything at all. Well, at least for a short period of time, and without taking into consideration food. The idea is actually great. You say no to everything for a month or so, and during that time you save money, help the environment and feel freer.
These things may seem like insignificant compared to the vast quantities of goods manufactured each day, the number of people using their cars and the waste that’s being produced. Still, that should discourage you. The change should start from somewhere. Share your habits with others. Small changes, when they’re towards something meaningful, will soon find a wider audience.
If you’re always having fun, you won’t notice that you’re having fun, so you have to be bored sometimes, too.” Alfons Aberg
Get A Copy:
- Local Bookstore: Search in a near, local bookstore to support small business.