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!

When you think you’ve minimised- minimise some more!

Photo on 14-05-2014 at 22.22

(Sorry about the naff quality of this picture, my phone has gone in for repairs, so I had to take it with a webcam instead!)

We’ve really been enjoying a sense of wellbeing around the house for the last few months, since my last post actually! It’s down to the space, the lack of clutter and the opportunities that brings. Peace- less physical clutter= less mental clutter. Joy- at being in a pleasant environment. Freedom to pursue other interests, instead of organising, tidying and cleaning.

But, as car boot season approaches- a) I can’t resist because I love car boots and b) we are constantly accumulating more stuff that can be gotten rid of. Today, I spent 10 minutes going through the kitchen cupboards to find items that we are not using. Many of the items in the above picture we inherited with the house (bought from a family member) and kept them on that awful premise that “they might be useful someday”.

8 months later, they most certainly have not and I cannot wait for them to be gone! We are getting rid of:

  1. A lovely patterned pie dish that was a wedding present but has had very little use
  2. A melamine picnic plate that my mum gave me, but has been used once or twice. It’s got a lovely pattern, but the design proved entirely impractical for containing food
  3. 2 packets of seeds, now out of date but someone might use them (inherited)
  4. Packet of out of date batteries, maybe someone can use them (inherited)
  5. Medium saucepan (inherited). We do not need all the saucepans we have and this is the third of 3 this size!
  6. Dryer balls (inherited). Why exactly do you need to bother with these?
  7. Silver cleaning cloth- I gave away the silver!
  8. Thermos flask in carry case (inherited)- never use it
  9. Pie funnel (was my Grandma’s) but I have never used it, even when I make pies- I just cut a slit in the top instead
  10. Tupperware Flour scoop (was my Grandma’s) great idea, never use it!
  11. Melon baller (given to me by mum) ‘felt’ that I should keep it, but I recently helped her move and she admitted that she could never get hers to work either and gave it to a charity shop. I feel released to follow suit!
  12. Gourmet gold cat food fork (freebie). Yes, exactly- who needs this? It’s tiny and impractical to use and can’t be put in the dishwasher
  13. Rolling pin- found out after buying that this deposits small amounts of rust from between the handles each time it is used. It is unhygienic and annoying when it ruins your pristine white icing! I bought a solid one from a charity shop for less than this one cost me!
  14. 2 non-stick cake tins (inherited). I have to admit I will never need to use 4 cake tins, 2 is enough
  15. Various plastic pots and boxes- we never use them, we already have enough
  16. 2 mouse traps (inherited)- we don’t have a mouse problem, we don’t need these!
  17. Peeler- 1 of 3, not needed!

So there you go, 17 items going (not including multiples) and 1 empty kitchen cupboard is going to be reclaimed and repurposed. The over-riding message from this decluttering session is about having ‘enough’. It is greed that drives us to have more than we need. I am letting this items go, to hopefully someone who actually NEEDS them. I’d encourage you to read other minimalism blogs that speak about the concept of enough, if you need further encouragement.

Please get in touch and share stories about your minimalism journey.