Swedish lagom as we say semi-skimmed milk!

Shopping in downtown Malmö, Sweden. Notice the locals in the supermarket. Especially when they buy milk from the fridge. There is one particular type of milk they prefer. Semi-skimmed milk. You know, not too fatty not too tasteless. Just the right amount of fat. Yeah, right. Lagom. This is their way of saying “not too little, not too much, just the right amount” with anything. This is their national concept just like the Danes have hygge and the Finns spend their winters in sisu. Right?

Many people claim that lagom is the new Swedish export product. Others contemplate that. It is a way of approaching things in life to achieve balance. Nothing fancy like hygge maybe. Quite the opposite. Not too indifferent not too superfluous. Just the right amount of fanciness. Today, we are exploring lagom a little bit more. How did this start in the first place? Is it the Law of Jante to blame again? And how can you practice lagom to bring balance to your everyday life?

The land of semi-skimmed milk
It all began in 1996 when Swedish author and comedian, Jonas Gardell, trolled the Swedes about always choosing the middle way like in buying the semi-skimmed milk, in one of his stand-up comedy shows. He talked about balancefairness and consensus. Be it about food, design, work or even politics and the world. The lagom way.Probably like the Vikings did. Actually, despite the notorious stories about them, the Vikings had a very fair and equal social system. There is a story that lagom as a word comes from the phrase “laget om” which means “around the team“. Like what the Vikings did: when they gathered, everybody had to drink from the same horn or bowl. As it was passed around, everybody should drink as much as there would be left for the other tribe members too. Modern theories suggest lagom comes from the word “lag” that means law.Oh! The Law of Jante again? Is there any connection? Maybe. It dictates that no one is better, smarter or more important than others. So there is a sense of balance or a tendency to conformity, even mediocrity.

Lagom – in & out!
You can practice lagom in any aspect of your life. From the simplest everyday thing to the most important ones. Even your stand on social and political matters. Taking care that you do not get excessive amounts of anything can help you improve your physical health: not too much alcohol, a burger with no fries, medium roasted coffee and so on. On the other side, it is also about not too much physical exercise or obsessing with the gym.
Lagom can also help you with improving your mental health: having a decluttered home and limiting purchase and consumption of goods (especially the very expensive ones) can take much burden off your shoulders (minds too!). You do not need too much of luxury or showy-off things.
Then you suddenly understand that these decisions of yours can influence the world much more than you initially thought. Being healthystressfree and fair can bring change in the society too. Not too much work or obsession with the career. Not depleting the planet’s resources. Distributing your wealth among society so that everybody can have the same opportunities and live a good life.
Cool, huh? Well, as the Swedes would say “lagom kul“. Not too cool. There must be a balance in coolness too!