Monday, 9 September 2013

"Lagom är bäst" = "The right amount is best"

I miss Sweden
brilliant article and project

Njut Lagom! The secret art of being swedish.
Documentary project “Njut Lagom! The secret of being Swedish” presents a coherent overview of behaviors of Swedish people while they are spending their free time. Ordinary people doing ordinary things, but the way that they are doing it is typical of Swedish culture. The cultural phenomenon that is widely known to all Swedes as “Lagom” (just enough, adequate, in moderation) is almost as a secret code which represents an ideal rule for living – to a Swede it means the ideal place, where everything is as it should be.

To understand the Swedes, one must understand ‘Lagom’. Lagom is said to describe the basis of the Swedish national psyche, one of consensus and equality. Lagom (pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]) is a Swedish word with no direct English equivalent, meaning ‘enough, sufficient, adequate, just the right amount, in moderation’. Lagom carries the connotation of appropriateness, although not necessarily perfection. Behaviors in Sweden are strongly balanced towards ‘lagom’ or, ‘everything in moderation’. The archetypical Swedish proverb ‘Lagom är bäst’, literally ‘The right amount is best’, is translated as ‘Enough is as good as a feast’. It can also be viewed as repressive: ‘You’re not supposed to be too good, or too rich’. Excess, flashiness and boasting are abhorred in Sweden and individuals strive towards the middle way.
Lagom may be a little word, but its impact can be great. Whether you believe that it represents an ideal rule for living – that lagom is indeed best and citizens are striving to achieve this state of ‘lagom’; to a Swede it means the ideal place, where everything is as it should be. Lagom has worked well for Sweden in many ways and has allowed a balancing of society and a minimization of class difference because of high income tax and good social benefits correlated to the standard of life. This way of living is the essence of everyday Swedish life and one of the reasons behind the internationally recognized Swedish phenomenon known as “the Swedish model”.

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