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#MicroblogMondays 162: Lagom

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I learned a new term this week.  It was presented as 2018’s “hygge,” though once I Googled it, I saw that it was also 2017’s “hygge.”  That feels like a lot of work for a single word.

Lagom is Swedish, and (based on what I’m reading) it roughly translates as “just enough.”  The Guardian summarizes the sentiment and compares it to hygge:

Both imply a distaste for extravagance and flashiness, but hygge is active in a way that lagom is not. Hygge is about doing that little bit extra to create a special atmosphere. Lagom, although always positive, is almost the opposite. It’s about not doing what is unnecessary or superfluous, focusing on what is absolutely essential, knowing when to stop.

Which sounds pretty damn good to me.  There are times when fussy is totally worth it; go all out and enjoy the final product.  But too many times we feel like we should strive for fussy when we know that pared down is more our style.  (Or, more attainable.  Can you tell that I don’t lead a very Instagrammable life?)

And yet when it comes to personality, I’m not sure it would work for me.  As much as I am austere when it comes to tangible things, I feel pretty passionate about ideas.  The author continues:

Being lagom also means being moderate in personality, views, and politics. When Swedish children are told skratta lagom, or teenagers are told to have lagom kul, it doesn’t mean “have a bit of a laugh”, or “have a bit of fun”, it means “don’t laugh too much”, or “don’t go over the top”.

You can’t take a word out of a culture.  Or you can try, but it will forever be like wearing someone else’s shoes; they may be your size, but they’re molded to someone else’s feet.

What do you think about the idea of lagom?

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17 comments

1 TasIVFer { 10.02.17 at 6:12 am }

You can’t take ‘lagom’ away from the culture! And Swedish culture is very different from yours. This will blow your mind: Swedes in general trust their government more than family.

2 Nabanita { 10.02.17 at 6:13 am }

Interesting. I think it’s a mix of both for me depends on what the context is though.

3 keerthi vydyula { 10.02.17 at 6:14 am }

“Don’t laugh too much” or “don’t go over the top” sounds like a very wise advice to me. Seems like though i do not speak Swedish the word “Lagom” is going to be used by me occasionally!

4 Beth { 10.02.17 at 6:33 am }

I’m all for “don’t go over the top” but I can’t get behind “don’t laugh too much.”

5 Tina Basu { 10.02.17 at 8:43 am }

Lagom sounds very interesting. You have rightlly said, its always going to be like someone else’s shoe. I am not sure how much I’ll be using though.

6 Cristy { 10.02.17 at 9:38 am }

I like this theme you are exploring. Lagom and your post about living an ordinary life: https://www.stirrup-queens.com/2017/09/living-an-ordinary-life/

It’s fitting because we glamorize the excessive in a lot of cases. Weddings, baby showers, playdates, holidays, dinner parties, etc, etc. Every event has to be “special,” and our lives have to be equally “special.” But maybe in the process of pursuing specialness, we miss that which is actually special? We miss the beauty in the busy-ness?

7 Chandni { 10.02.17 at 9:45 am }

As usual , cant find the link .. to which I can add my post .. so here goes.

https://chandnimoudgil.com/2017/10/02/pattern-writebravely-writetribeproblogger-microblogmondays/

while some things I do in moderation , just enough , I am an extreme person . I get obsessive, a laugh hysterically , I love intensely .. when I do . But on most days I am calm , composed and TRY not to give away too much .. just like those Swedish moms expect their kids to grow up to be 🙂

I agree with you , one can have an opinion about a word — but cant really understand it completely and accept it like their own if we don’t relate to that culture..

8 loribeth { 10.02.17 at 10:02 am }

The concepts, if not the exact terminology, of both hygge and lagom —
that distaste for extravagance and flashiness, the emphasis on moderation in all things — were always familiar to me… when I first heard them now as “trendy” terms I understood instantly what they were all about. My maternal grandmother was Swedish, and lived in a little town in NW Minnesota that was predominantly Scandinavian… in fact, I once read that in the 1950s, the population of that county had the highest percentage of Swedish speakers outside of Sweden. I spent a good chunk of my childhood summers and other holidays there.

It’s funny because the place where I am now living is all about extravagance & flashiness and showing off and keeping up with (or outdoing) the Joneses. I think that’s a very big part of why I feel so very much like a fish out of water here sometimes, because it’s not the way I was brought up at all.

9 Lori Shandle-Fox { 10.02.17 at 10:59 am }

I think you can never laugh too much or too loudly unless you´re just doing it to be obnoxious. But in other ways, I do agree. I´ve lived through the too highs and too lows. Staying in the middle of that feels great. Also, my writing is much better when it´s edited down to fit a word count. It stays concise. I also have a lot of strong opinions. I actually love when there´s a ¨big heated issue¨ out there that I don´t really care one way or other about.

10 Different Shores { 10.02.17 at 12:23 pm }

I’m a bit sceptical about these trends. When Tesco starts a Hygge candle range, and all the chain stores are selling Hygge cardigan ranges, I just want to run a mile. At least that has died a death. Hygge stuff is now seriously uncool I hope. Lagom sounds interesting, although I reckon that too will go the way of hygge. Anyway I think the nuances of these concepts are only really understood in the countries they originate in. Brits like me try and adopt them , but we don’t really get it properly… I’ve just had a business idea, though. I’m going to comb through all the languages of the world for some obscure lifestyle concept and then flog it in a crap book to make as much money as I can while it lasts. Hurray, I have finally had my business brainwave.

11 Ana { 10.02.17 at 3:05 pm }

The trendiness of these concepts is off-putting, but I do get it. Its a very matter-of-fact, take what comes without a fuss, approach to life that probably does result in living longer and having lower blood pressure! Its so NOT me, though. I tend to get excitable and I’ll take the lows for the highs. And if no one got too worked up over things, how would things ever change? Its an incredible position of privilege, isn’t it, to be able to just be “moderate” in your views and beliefs because you trust it will all work out for you in the end?

12 Journeywoman { 10.02.17 at 4:07 pm }

It makes me think of the tarot card Temperance. All things in moderation–including moderation.

13 Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) { 10.02.17 at 5:31 pm }

Love what you said about fussiness (sometimes) being worth it but not something we should feel obligated to. Many times “pared down” is actually just right.

14 Chandra Lynn { 10.02.17 at 9:13 pm }

They seem “almost” the same–one seems to teach through positive language, the other through negative (don’t, unnecessary, etc.). I tend toward the positive, so would find “lagom”off-putting. But I do like the idea of moderation and “just enough.”

15 Impatiently Infertile { 10.02.17 at 10:08 pm }

I love this idea of Lagom. It’s a concept that I really need in my life right now. I don’t think that one needs to apply it to every situation in life to appreciate it. I tend to go for the 4.0 in school and take on those extra projects at work. Sometimes, I need to be just enough me, not extra credit me. Thanks for sharing!

16 Middle Girl { 10.02.17 at 11:06 pm }

Moderation of even moderation. Yes.

17 Mali { 10.03.17 at 12:44 am }

The concept of lagom sounds very familiar to me. My parents would totally have bought into it. We shouldn’t be “over the top,” draw attention to ourselves, etc etc. It’s very 1960s-70s kiwi too.

This is what I love about languages. You learn so much more than just the meaning of the word. You learn about the culture, and the people in it.

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