In Singapore, we tend to be competitive and like taking the first spot in rankings. Whether it's having the best airport in the world or placing your hand on a car for the longest time, we always strive to be the best. That is a great spirit to have, but how do we fare in the rankings of happiness? Is it possible to have a balanced life while pursuing our goals?
Perhaps we could learn from the Swedish philosophy of lagom, which focuses on having just enough. As one of the happiest countries in the world, the Swedes do everything in balance and moderation. Having a lagom state of mind is to be accepting and contented, and it can applied to all aspects of life – from one’s working hours to how much cake to eat at one go.
In other words, it’s about having not too much, nor too little. Read on for 7 ways to get yourself into a balanced state of lagom.
Waste not, want not
To the eco-warriors, you may be delighted to learn that you’ve already taken your first step towards living lagom. Part of the concept celebrates sustainable living, where one taps on just the right amount of resources for a comfortable lifestyle without unnecessary waste.
When you want to buy something new, think how you can get creative with items you don’t use anymore and repurpose them to meet your needs. Whether it’s adapting your old furniture to serve a different purpose or giving your old clothes a fresh lease of life as a cushion cover, you can easily find workshops or studios that can assist you in your upcycling projects. The more you experiment, the more you will find yourself saving on refurbishments.
A balanced diet
Eating healthily is also a perfect example of lagom. The Scandinavian diet is primarily made up of fruit and greens, whole grains and lean protein. It’s all about eating in moderation and being mindful of a balance that is just right to fill you up – while still providing optimum nutrition. On the other hand, it is not lagom at all when you over-eat. It may satisfy your cravings initially, but your body might feel out of sorts because you’ve had too much to eat.
To declutter, or not to declutter
A lot of our time is spent between work and home. That is why the first things to consider re-organising are your work desk and bedroom. Only you will know for sure if a space feels just right for your purposes, and whether to add or remove things.
There isn’t a standard goal to work towards for decluttering. Some may find clarity in a desk with a little less clutter, while others find inspiration surrounded by decorative trinkets. Meanwhile, bedrooms are sacred for your daily recharge, so it is important to figure out if it’s a little more cosiness or clearing out those dusty old books that might do the trick.
Balancing happiness and money
With lagom, monthly budgeting does not mean you have to scrimp and save. Instead, you can still enjoy what you love by diving deep into your expenses and considering what gives you just the right balance of emotional and practical value.
If dining out daily puts a strain on your wallet, start eating in for a day or two. This way, it will be just enough to reduce your expenses and take the stress out of cooking all the time. You’ll find a balance between the extremes as you get a better grasp of the experiences that contribute to your well-being while cutting down on unnecessary spending.
Plus, you’ll have more spare cash to grow your savings as you get ready for a home purchase or retirement. Consider putting your savings in your CPF account to grow your savings with attractive interest rates.
Quality over quantity
Another perk of looking at money matters with a lagom mindset is to finally be able to splurge on that pair of sneakers without feeling guilty about it. Sounds unbelievable but here’s the thing: buying a quality pair of sneakers that lasts (and doesn’t give you blisters) is wiser than spending on poorly-made shoes that hurt and have to be replaced every couple of months.
But this is no excuse to give in to an urge to buy 10 pairs of quality sneakers. After all, balancing your needs and wants is important in living lagom. So one good pair isn’t just right for your feet, it’s just right for your wallet too. Next time you are up for a purchase, think quality instead of quantity.
Take a fika break
When it comes to work, the lagom mindset is ideal for bringing out the best in you. A way to improve your work efficiency would be to take useful breaks. One where you slow down, contemplate or even gather for a chat. The Swedes call it fika – a mental recharge as you have a cup of coffee/tea and a baked treat. After fika, you will be refreshed to work better and perhaps even avoid unnecessary overtime!
Walking the tightrope of stress
For those with stress-inducing woes, boost your well-being at work strategically. Identify what spikes your stress levels and balance it out with quick fixes. Feel like you are overwhelmed by work? Break them down into small tasks that are just right for you to manage and work through them step by step.
Ready to start thinking about achieving lagom in your life? When you do get things just right for yourself like Goldilocks, you will be on your way to enjoying life like the Swedish.