Embrace ‘lagom’, the Swedish philosophy for ‘just the right amount’
Last year, you couldn’t walk into a bookshop or flick through Instagram without seeing the Danish word ‘hygge’, a state which roughly translates as ‘cosiness’, which is praised for improving wellbeing. Now, the latest Scandi lifestyle aspiration is ‘lagom’ (pronounced to rhyme with bar-gom), which means ‘enough’.
Over the past six months, Google has seen a huge increase in the number of UK searches for the term ‘lagom’. It’s a simple Swedish philosophy that’s all about creating balance to live a rewarding, yet responsible life – taking only what is needed, while not depriving yourself.
Whether it’s food, clothing, energy, or holidays, ‘lagom’ seeks Goldilocks’ sense of the ‘just right’. It’s an idea with the power to change the way people feel about sustainability by encouraging simple lifestyle changes that support the planet.
Elliot Stocks, co-editor of Lagom magazine In Bristol, says that “rather than fitting a bit of ‘lagom’ into your day, it’s more about your approach to your life as a whole, it’s an overarching concept behind the way you live.”
The notion of making life easier, more enjoyable and less expensive is something we can all get on board with. And it pays off; a recent study named Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg, the most sociable city in the world. That’s not to say its inhabitants are topping the list for big, boozy nights out – rather they are most inclined to meet up and share a picnic or catch up over ‘fika’ (a cornerstone of Swedish culture, meaning to have coffee with a traditional cinnamon role or other pastry).
A seaport on the country’s west coast, Gothenburg’s wide, quiet, brownstone streets make cycling practically obligatory – last year they even introduced an electric bike hire scheme. It’s green in every sense, boasting numerous landscaped public gardens and a sizeable ecological shopping scene with dedicated organic and holistic shops across the city, all of which use brown paper bags to reduce unnecessary plastic.
The hipster neighbourhood of Haga packs plenty of traditional charm with shops crammed with chic wares and cute cafes. Aside from regular ‘fika’ breaks, food is very important in Gothenburg. At Upper House, an ultra-chic hotel perched on the edge of the city, breakfast is celebrated as the most important meal of the day. The buffet includes locally produced meats and cheeses, mueslis, and yoghurts, and there are decadent cooked options such as rye waffles with pickled herring and brown butter. Not forgetting mini cakes and desserts to finish.
Upper House has 53 bedrooms and also features a spa with relaxing yoga sessions, a hammam, and an outdoor glass-bottomed jacuzzi pool on the 19th floor complete with killer views of the city below. If ‘lagom’ is all about getting enough enjoyment out of simple activities, such as swimming, a stay at Upper House definitely ticks that box. So much so that you may struggle to leave.
Nearby, the leafy Liseberg Amusement Park fills the skyline with whooshing vintage rollercoasters; and elsewhere, the city is dotted with pristine grounds for playing boules (a national hobby in Sweden), and has plenty of museums and galleries.
You will seldom have such easy access to something as stunning as Sweden’s west coast archipelago, which can be reached by a short tram ride from the city centre, followed by a 20-minute ferry. The car-free islands are offer a slice of true tranquility and an abundance of nature.
Gothenburg offers chic city living with an emphasis on the enjoying the great outdoors. There’s an evident sense of that much longed-for work/life balance, a happiness born out of being thankful and responsible. Let’s hope we can all learn to follow the Swedish way – it’s more than enough.
How to be more ‘lagom’
- Consciously reduce your environmental impact on the world
- Be grateful for what you have
- Eat with the seasons
- Keep note of your finances
- Recycle and refuse – say no to plastic
- Share meals with friends
Fore more information about Upper House visit www.upperhouse.se, email [email protected]
or phone +46317088200
Norwegian offers two direct flights daily from London Gatwick to Gothenburg (except Saturdays). Fares start from £34.90 one way, and flights are on Norwegian’s brand new aircraft with free on-board Wi-Fi.