lagom (Swedish)

sufficient, enough, adequate, just right

Happy New Year!

I have a friend at work who in lieu of resolutions chooses a word as a theme for the year. I really liked this idea, and I gave it a try last year. As I cogitate on my 2015 word, a most intriguing word comes to mind. It is a very elegant word in that it has a fairly dense meaning within its five letters. The word is lagom. Lagom is a Swedish word that means “sufficient, enough, adequate, just right.”

I think the notion of “just right” is an interesting ideal. “Enough” is a powerful concept. Lagom conveniently binds these two things together beautifully. Lagom, for me, speaks to moderation. Further, Lagom implies a healthy minimalism. I struggle with truly living lagom. It seems there is always one more thing, activity, etc. that I “need” in my life. All the complexity I add through things and superfluous activities seems to suffocate real living. So, I genuinely see the virtues of a simple life, a life built on a principle like lagom or “just enough.” I do not think I am alone either. I have met many others that feel this way too. How does one cultivate an attitude of lagom? My answer to that sort of question will almost invariably be, practice.

Perhaps excluding the Swedes, who may have encoded lagom into their DNA, I think people have to practice the sort of living that leads to a lagom lifestyle. The way of thinking, the eschewing of unnecessary things and wasteful activities can become a habit. Stephen Covey uses a really interesting analogy that applies to lagom. Covey talks about how an airplane always has a flight plan. However, the plane spends most of the flight off that flight plan. That sounds scary. How do we get anywhere via plane if that is the case? The good news for us is that the pilots are constantly readjusting to get back to the course plotted to arrive safely at our destination. I think it is the same for us. We should set for ourselves a destination of lagom living. But the candid truth is that we will not likely spend many of our waking hours in lagom-land. The winds of too much will blow us off course. The drive for more than enough will take our eye off the destination. Therefore, we will have to be continually aware of our thoughts and behaviors and correct as necessary to return to our chosen course. This assumes that we make time to honestly assess where we are at on our chosen course. I want to spend a moment on that.

I think it is important to take time for self-reflection. I think it is important enough that I started writing this blog. Fundamentally, that is what cogitatively is about. I have struggled to make the time to order the chaos that dominates my thoughts. Taking time to sit and write forces me to make sense of disparate ideas and competing priorities. One thing that I have learned is that I have to set aside time for the specific goal of self-reflection and contemplation. Saying I need to think about that “at some point” just never happens. I lead a busy life. So do all of you. I hope you and I can always make space for self-reflection. This cogitation is critical to ensure we do not wake up one day and wonder what we have done with our lives.

So, with that, let me wish you all a Happy New Year! May it be just right in its balance between everything that matters. May you always have enough for your needs. In a word, may you have a most lagom 2015!


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On New Year’s Day I wrote a post on my focus word for the year. My focus word this year is the word minimal. As the end of the first quarter of this year is upon us, I thought it was an opportune time to hold myself accountable on my... Continue →