19 March 2013

Lagom: or the path of the Golden Mean

I was reading the Real Life Minimalist post on Miss Minimalist today and came across the word 'lagom' in Jess' post. As often occurs when I read a new and interesting word, I went off to explore what the digital landscape had to offer about this word and its meaning.

Lagom (pronunciation) is a Swedish word and as such there was no entry in the OED, but simply putting the word into Google brought me to the Lexiophiles.com site and the entry "What “lagom” Really Means ".

Lagom seems to be a neutral word that inspires people to live life with 'just enough' and a feeling of what is 'just right'. I like the word because it feels like it is packed with integrity and allows people to go with the flow of not too little, but not too much.

The Lexiophiles page also speak of Aristotle's 'Golden Mean'. Research on this brings us to an example in Aristotle's book on Politics where Aristotle criticises Spartan policy because they train only their men and not their woman and this training is only for war and not peace. Joined with Gautama Buddha's teaching on the middle way, we can see that extremes have been worrying our best thinkers and teachers for thousands of years.

But how do we embrace lagom; the golden mean; the middle path? I think as with all things there will be a period of growth whereby we go to extremes in our attempts to reach this middle ground. An example when trying to reach your minimalism point can be seen when we first find out about the wonders of decluttering and minimalism and 'sell, sell, sell' in order to reach the nirvana that we've read so much about - but then as if on auto pilot we overcompensate and things start to accumulate again.

But this too, is fine. It is part of the process. It is only by living with too much and too little that we can understand when we have achieved lagom. And by achieving lagom we can then begin to understand that it is true to its definition and that 'just enough' will change throughout our lives - which too, is just right.

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