Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lagom Is Just Enough

Nah, this isn't it. Some people don't get it. Or they're just not ready for lagom.
OK, Ive found it! It's May 3rd and Ive finally decided on my word for 2016. You'll remember that I wasn't going to have a word because for the past two years my word was "discipline" and I never managed it. Totally forgetting about the previous two years, I chose "discipline" as my word for 2016. Then, out of interest, I went back to check up on last year and saw that I'm obviously barking up the completely wrong tree.

My word for 2016, and possibly for life, is "lagom". I first heard this word from Gemma and Kate who are both lucky enough to be IKEA ambassadors for the Lagom Project and get to choose items to lagom their homes. Quite clever of IKEA if you think about it. We'll give you a modest amount of money to spend in our stores for quite a lot of publicity. It had to be a modest amount because lagom means just enough.

Anyway, I am not an IKEA anything but I have been thinking about this lagom concept for a while. And I like it. It takes the pressure off. It's a much more pleasant way to live. Less is more rather than more is better.

I read today that Finnish school children score near the top of the world ranking for school education. There are a few sensationalist reports about how they do it which contradict everything we in the developed world believe. They have the shortest school days, start school at age 7, no homework until secondary school and then very little, and only nine years of compulsary education. This blog post explains the Finnish school system.

However, the national philosophy of lagom (although it is a Swedish word) explains why they do so well in the international PISA tests. You can read the real reason why here.

I don't know why I didn't think of it before as much of the way I live and what I'm interested in is lagom oriented. I watch You Tube videos about tiny houses (although I would need a separate bedroom rather than a loft above the kitchen accessed by a ladder; and a fully plumbed bathroom preferably off the bedroom rather than off the kitchen). I read about minimalism and decluttering is my favourite sport.

Granted, much of this is a result of enforced frugality over the past few years but it's also a choice to work fewer hours and earn less in order to be able to stop and smell the roses.

My idea of hell would be to own several homes around the world. It's hard enough keeping one home running efficiently. If I had that much money I'd rather stay in hotels or rent chalets, cottages, or villas when needed.

I once had a friend who lived in a large house with an eat-in kitchen that had a breakfast bar as well as a dining table. Across the hall was a formal dining room and the den also had a table and chairs in the corner. One year they built on a big conservatory with seating at one end and a dining area at the other. "How do you decide where to eat each day?" I asked her this as we packed a picnic to take down to the summer house where we ate on a little table by the water feature. The excess of space bemused me even before I knew what effort it takes to keep a place clean, heated, and in good repair.

The annual scramble for swimming lessons started today on facebook, Actually I started it as I usually arrange a date for testing for the swimming groups and announce it on facebook. A number of families have opted for year round private lessons this year as the groups go quite slowly. In my lagom way, and as we are not big beach lovers, I'm happy with small improvements each year and for the meantime we'll stick with the group lessons in the summer courses.

My short term wish list is proper shower doors, a headboard for my bed, and new cushions for my sofa. I don't need or want a new bed or a new sofa.

I don't yearn to travel down the Amazon, across Canada, or up Mount Kilimaneverest. I'd like ten days on Lake Como (or Lucerne, Geneva, Logano, Garda, I'm not picky). I'd as soon sit on the beach in Eilat (just four hours drive away) as in Phuket. Why go to New Zealand when they have the same sort of spectacular scenery in Scandinavia? If I had the time and money to spend on three weeks of travel I'd like to tour Ireland or Scotland. If you offered me the time and money to do both I'd probably ask for a rain check on one of them. Who wants to be away from home for more than three weeks?

Now if only I could apply lagom to my eating habits life would be perfect.


  1. I love that you have taken until May to settle on a word, nothing is worth hurrying. The Ikea project is very focused around sustainability, which is previously not something I had associated with Ikea, I though more of disposable furniture. They want to change that, I think the 'just enough' concept is such a positive one, in a world of mass, sometimes thoughtless and disposable consumerism. You are right, there are so many things that on paper seem fab, but really who needs/wants three houses. Like you, I've re-evaluated how I consume and the stuff I own over the last few years, possessions don't make quality of life. Thanks for the mention and enjoy your word in 2016!

    1. Thanks Gemma. Sorry I didn't describe the IKEA project very well. Probably a bit of sour grapes.