How to Live a Balanced Life

By now, most of you have heard of the Danish lifestyle term “hygge,” but have you heard of the Swedish lifestyle of “lagom?” I was in my local Barnes and Noble a week ago and saw this book on display entitled, Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne for $16.  The cover of the book initally caught my eye and the mix of still life photography and cheerful graphic art sustained my attention. I am a highly visual learner and this book drew me in!


To be clear, lagom is the idea of “not too little, not too much, but just enough.” It’s like wearing a bright lipstick while the rest of your outfit is more subdued. It’s like spending enough time on a work project that is adequate and appropriate, but not working way past normal work hours. It’s about finding that balance between too much and too little.

As I flipped through the book when I got home later that night, I felt so inspired to incorporate some of the lagom lifestyle into my own daily routine. Below, I’ve outlined my main takeways and ideas from the book. Have you heard of lagom? See below for a crash course to this balanced lifestyle.

The Fika Coffee Break

Practicing a lagom lifestyle at work is all about working efficiently, but knowing when to treat yourself to a little break twice a day. It’s as simple as incorporating fika into your workday. Fika is a 15 minute coffee/tea break every morning and afternoon. All you do is step away from your desk for 15 minutes (or less) to grab a quick cup of coffee. The true Swedish Fika also includes a pastry snack and spending time with your coworkers. The Fika is separate from your lunch break, so you are able to have 3 healthy breaks  from your workflow with this lifestyle habit. If you’re a teacher like me, you could have your first Fika during your planning period and then the second Fika could be right after work  (my job ends at 2pm) or in the early afternoon. Taking a break from work is good for your body and mental health. You’ll feel refreshed when you return to work and relish in practicing self-care.

Leave Work  On Time

Lagom is all about using the right amount of time to complete a work project. Author Linnea Dunne suggests, “Don’t waste time on a job that’s already done well enough, but don’t deliver a job that’s not up to scratch.” I can truly take this advice to heart because I am a perfectionist and tend to dwell on small details that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I give myself 10-15 minutes to plan a lesson and once that time is up, I do one proof-read, click “print,” and leave for the day. I don’t let myself worry about if it was “good enough” because I’ve been trained to do my job well and I trust my abilities (as well as past feedback and experience).

Love Your Leftovers

To practice a lagom lifestyle in your kitchen , try the idea of pyttipanna when you’re cooking your next meal. Pyttipanna is a brand new dish made only from leftovers. I love this idea because it helps you use up all of the food in your fridge. It allows for experimentation and creativity in the kitchen. I have definitely made dishes from leftovers, like salads with leftover chicken on top or mashed potatoes with leftover soup poured over it as a gravy. What a great idea for lunches to bring to work! This can help you save money on groceries and waste less food.

Eating a (small) bag of sweet treats on Saturdays

If you have a sweet tooth, you could try incorporating lordagsgodis into your diet. Lordagsgodis is a Saturday tradition of filling a little bag with a variety of small sweets and eating them all in one sitting, according to the book. This once-a-week treat can help you look at dessert as a special occasion rather than a daily indulgence. I love this idea because I severely limit my sugar intake during the week, so I can see myself enjoying this treat on the weekend. Last Saturday, my husband Charlie and I went to the Opry Mills Mall and stumbled upon a Lindt Chocolate store, complete with a multitude of truffle flavors, such as orange, salted caramel,coconut, and raspberry. We both decided to “make your own gift bag” and filled up our small cellophane bags with colorful sweets. I chose about 5 different flavored sweets for $3. When we got home, I ate them all in one sitting and the variety of the flavors left me deeply satisfied. If you eat dessert once or twice a week, try this concept!

Have a Capsule Wardrobe for Each Season

According to author Linnea Dunne, the Swedish dress themselves in comfy, practical, mostly black clothing with big jewelry, bleached hair, bright red lipstick, and walk-able shoes, like brogues or clogs. They favor natural fabrics, like cotton, linen, and wool. As for what they wear each season, they like to have a wardrobe box marked for the 4 seasons. This concept narrows down your choices and prioritizes comfort and functionality. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe because you can appreciate the small selection of clothes you have for the current weather. The French also do this and think about how chic they are!

The January Display at Anthropologie

Try incorporating this into your routine by storing away all Spring, Summer, and Fall clothing to focus on your winter wear. This will also help you see what pieces you tend to never wear, so you can sell or donate these items. Clear the space for what you truly love to wear and if it’s not comfy, eliminate it from your closet.


So, tell me: Do you already practice these lifestyle habits of lagom, too? Or are you all about Hygge? Tell me about it in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “How to Live a Balanced Life

  1. I don’t practice hygge as you call it, but those are interesting principle to live by. They are not new, though most cultures (except perhaps very recent ones, ) will have to heir version of the golden mean.

  2. A nice reminder, thank you

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