Adapting the Swedish Way of Life
A few months ago I was bookstore hopping and stumbled across a book which has since become one of my favorite resources for living a de-cluttered, minimalist, and more joy filled life. “The Lagom Life: A Swedish Way of Living,” by Niki Brantmark has changed my life, and I hope it will bring you the same excitement to live a healthier, more balanced life as it did for me!
Lagom is Swedish for, “not too little, not too much,” or, “just right.” If you’re having flashes of Goldilocks, don’t worry, you’re not alone. At first, I was skeptical because I love stuff. Not in a hoarder or materialistic type of way, but more in a, “if only I had that vase, this room would be complete,” type of way. After I read this book though, I discovered the wonderfully satisfying world of living simply. Not just where things were concerned, but also in life, work, relationships…the ever elusive “balance” we’re all seeking was suddenly attainable after reading this book. Brantmark explained a few key Swedish ways of living that I’m working towards perfecting, and I’m going to share them with you for as my good deed of the day.
First off, we’ve all heard of this trend but are probably hesitant to give it a go: the Capsule Wardrobe. This is the idea that you only need a minimal amount of clothing, that you can then mix & match throughout the season. It’s a minimalist, sophisticated and very practical way to organize your closet. You choose more simple clothing pieces that are good quality to stand the test of time, things that can be easily created in multiple outfits and can be accented by accessories. This gives you way more space in your closet, keeps that overwhelming what to wear feeling at bay, and actually saves you money despite the fact you’re buying higher quality pieces. For example: I am on my feet all day showing houses to my clients and I wear through my flats in as little as 1 month sometimes. I was always running to Target to just grab flats and go…until I realized that buying one pair of flats every two months or so was running me up a huge bill. Spending the money now on quality items, will save you dollars in the long run.
Secondly, we need to take more breaks. When I reading this book, I was introduced to the practice of fika paus, which is to take a short break with coffee and a treat. Here, we’d commonly refer to this as a coffee break. After thinking about it, I realize that it’s not so informal as a coffee break. Here, we tend to think of coffee breaks as the time it takes me to walk to the kitchenette, pour coffee and walk back to my desk. In Sweden, it’s a little more formal and deliberate break from what you’re doing. It’s meant as a way to recharge, to relax and to center yourself to continue on your day. I’ve been taking more deliberate fika paus and have found them to wake me up and get me more focused once I return to my tasks.
Lastly, and perhaps my most favorite, is to declutter and make your living space a more simple expression of comfort and ease. As someone who has already admitted to loving stuff, this may have been/is the more difficult philosophy for me to adhere to. Just the thought of getting rid of stuff made me itchy. BUT…how freeing a feeling it is to look around your space and actually see SPACE, AIR, LIGHT! I found that when I tasked myself with tackling one room at a time, I was able to take a short trip down memory lane as I looked through my items and then lovingly put them in a donation box. It has left me with cleaner rooms, more spacious and airy living spaces, and has made me appreciate more the items that I decided to keep. Having thoughtful pieces of furniture that double as hidden storage is key for a comfortable and de-cluttered room. I’ve trained myself to handle my mail right away, rather than letting it pile up. I’ve enjoyed lying down on the couch that is simple, sturdy and made beautiful by the thoughtful throw and pillows I’ve adorned it with. I’ve also been using plants as a way to add color in a less committed and risky way.
Lagom is a lifestyle that once I adapted, I realized what I had been missing all these years. I walk into my home and instead of feeling tight, annoyed at the mess and overwhelmed with all the items, I feel free and right at home. I’ve started applying this to my business as well. Encouraging clients to think about quality over quantity when it comes to the items in their home. They’re always so surprised about how beautiful their home looks after a solid round of thoughtful de-cluttering. If you’ve been thinking of wanting to make some lifestyle changes that will bring you more peace and less stress, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book!