30+ Habits of the Swedes That Make Their Country One of the Happiest in the World
In the pursuit of happiness, we often resort to various national recipes for acquiring the harmony of еру mind: hygge, lykke, and sisu. The Swedish “lagom” system stands along with them, yet stands out with its practicality. It’s not so much a motivational hymn to a happy life as a set of specific recommendations that will help effectively eliminate the mess in your house, schedule, and mind, so that the desired happiness has a place to settle in.
Bright Side has collected 35 life principles of the Swedes, thanks to which their country continuously occupies the top places in the world’s “happiness rating.” The author of the article has tested the following advice herself and wants to note that the Swedish happiness recipe is also relevant for other countries.
The essence of “lagom” philosophy
From the linguistic point of view, the word “lagom” means “moderation.” It’s the feeling of wealth: you have everything and you don’t experience an acute shortage in anything (it’s not only about material things). Lagom is the balance between work and personal life, care for nature, reasonable minimalism, and the laconic Swedish style.
It’s not about “taking what you can get.” It’s more about the harm of the constant race for something more. After all, it’s the desire to possess something beyond our true needs that makes us work around the clock and then buy unnecessary things that we have no time to enjoy.
The lagom principles help us harmonize all aspects of life to finally breathe freely and get the time and the possibility to feel happiness.
Lagom in the interior
- Arrange the pieces of furniture at a distance from each other, so there’s “breathing space” between them, and your eyes could focus on each of them to see their beauty.
- Instead of paintings and posters, hang photos of landscapes you admired during your vacation so that you can revisit those carefree days.
- Instead of carpeting that’s difficult to clean up properly, use fabric rugs that are easy to clean, wash, get dry-cleaned, or simply replace with new ones.
- To fill your home with natural light, hang transparent curtains and choose white or gray shades for your walls.
- When it gets dark, light up candles — they warm up the soul.
- The Swedes are masters of zoning because, according to them, one can relax only in a well-thought-out house. Think of your needs and create a zone (even a tiny one) for every type of activity.
Lagom while tidying up
- To gradually reduce the number of items, remove an object a week from every room.
- When you buy a new thing, get rid of 2 old ones.
- When tidying up your wardrobe, take the clothes off the hangers and put away 5 of them. Then, sort out the clothes in order of importance. The ones that were left without hangers don’t belong to your home.
- Prevent the appearance of “hot spots” where all the trash likes to accumulate. Place a basket there and put your things inside and, as you fill it, sort out the items and return them to their places.
- Follow the “one touch” rule with all the paper stuff: as soon as you touch a document, put it in place, perform the necessary actions (pay the bills, for example) or throw it away.
Lagom in the kitchen
- To save time on cooking, write out the menu for the week and plan simple dishes for weekdays (or even one dish for 2 days).
- Freeze the products for future use — even beverages (in sealed bags). It’s convenient to freeze greens for dressings and cream for sauces in ice molds.
- Cook season meals using local products, from vegetables to honey. It’s both cheaper and healthier.
Lagom at work
- Start waking up at half an hour earlier to avoid hurrying, get a feeling of control over your time, and a sense of confidence.
- In the morning, slowly drink a cup of tea from your favorite cup to tune in on a productive day.
- If your work allows it, plan to leave a little earlier than usual: knowing that you’ll leave earlier, you’ll start working more efficiently.
- Have “fika” coffee breaks with your colleagues: this improves the working atmosphere and increases work efficiency.
Lagom and rest
Try going to bed in time every day.
- Take a “kvellspromenade” after dinner — an evening walk not far from your home. It’s a great way to relax and get ready for bed.
- Don’t plan anything on one of your weekend days — let it be a day to restore the balance and communicate with your family.
- Start a tradition of crafting something. It’s not necessary to do something laborious like furniture or clothes — you can just start knitting napkins or appliqué.
Lagom and nature
- A nature walk is the perfect lagom rest. To stick to your walks in any weather, buy beautiful, comfortable, and high-quality equipment.
- To continue communication with nature at home, use natural materials in your interior such as wood, wool, metal.
- Buy houseplants. It’s useful to exchange their stems with your acquaintances to have another reason for pleasant communication.
- Decorate your home with fresh flowers, herbs, and branches as often as possible.
- Plant the seeds of undemanding plants (herbs and vegetables) in the pots, take care of them and then use the results of your work while cooking.
Lagom and attitude to life
- It’s better to substitute the question “Am I happy?” with “Am I content with my life?” A fixation on happiness can lead to disappointment.
- Learn to take care of yourself without perceiving it as selfishness: a full rest, moments of solitude, the refusal to put yourself into any strict timeframes — all of these aren’t a whim but a necessity.
- Accept the fact that there’s always a small imbalance in life. Sometimes you need to work more; sometimes you have no time. Stop trying to control everything and just relax.
- Clear your mind of any trash and limit its new arrival: reduce the time you spend online, cut back on reading the newspaper, and don’t watch as much TV.
- Prefer the quality of communication to quantity: replace communication via social networks and messengers with personal meetings with your friends and family.
- Find time to do what you love, whether it’s baking, home decoration, or singing. It can be anything if it brings you joy and creative self-realization.
Basically, there’s nothing unusual in these tips — it’s a kind of household philosophy of the Swedish people; the wisdom of many generations polished by centuries. Yet these are the very simple things we miss in the midst of the daily race we often find ourselves in.
Lagom makes us recall them and organize our lives in a way so that we have time and energy for these simple things.
Which Swedish philosophical principles of happiness could you related to? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.