Lagom- The Swedish Principle of ‘Enough’

Another term I heard on TV this week (I forget where), is the Swedish word ‘Lagom’. This is a uniquely Swedish term for ‘enough’, ‘just the right amount’, ‘in moderation’, appropriate’, ‘not too much, not too little’, ‘adequate’ or ‘sufficient’. I was immediately intrigued and turned to Google to find out more.

They general school of thought is that this word originates circa¬†the Viking era, from the word ‘laget om’ meaning ‘around the team’. The Vikings used to share around a horn filled with wine, for drinking and every had to take just the right amount, so that it could go round everyone.

This word is apparently ingrained into Swedish culture and guides everything they do- from eating and drinking, to their homes and environment. I wonder what we can learn from the Swedes? Would we have a more egalitarian society where we shared the wealth and stopped trying to compete with each other?

Surely there are two-sides to every thing- lagom could be viewed as a positive concept, an embodiment of fairness. But viewed negatively, lagom could be seen to encourage conformity or mediocrity. I think it is quite an affront to our Western, individualistic cultures- particularly those in Britain and America. One might even go as far to say that the idea of lagom is the antithesis of the ‘American Dream’.

I don’t know enough about Nordic culture to comment on how differently they view life. But I do wonder if this is why they seem to have fairer societies, cleaner countries, countries where child care is paid for, parental leave is the norm for both parents and they have a greater focus on green technologies.

I’d encourage you to have a read around the topic if you want a little more depth. Let me know your thoughts!