For anyone who has gone on Book Depository throughout 2016, you might have seen The Little Book of Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) by Meik Wiking hold a firm place on the top sellers list. The quaint cover art promises to unveil Danish secrets to living life right, and a quick flip through explains hygge at its core. Reading by fire places, candles, hot cocoa, thick cashmere cardigans, and woollen socks are some of the things Danes associate with the hygge way of life. Bands of hipsters soon adopted it as the aesthetic of the year, and a slew of digital publications began valorising hygge as the trend to making 2016 suck less. It didn’t really work, but at least you got to feel kinda cosy while sh*tting bricks over Brexit and Trump.
The thing about hygge is that it isolated anyone removed from the Scandinavian peninsula or the U.K. Here in the tropics, “summer” is defined by 34-degree afternoons and an average humidity of 70%. Walking around in a cable-knit sweater and knitted socks is more likely to give you body odour and foot fungus than the appeal of an idyll Kinfolk spread.
The tastemakers that be, however, have declared a more accessible Scandinavian lifestyle as the trend for 2017: Lagom. Pronounced “lah-gom”, the word epitomises the virtue of living life in moderation. Essentially, not too little, not too much, but just right.
The minimalist term has heavily sociological origins. It was most utilised during the era where the Law of Jante was prevalent, and said law defines group behavioural patterns that degrade portrayals individual success. It traces back to socialism in Sweden, where the idea of luxury was demonised in favour of lagom. While the concept may no longer define the Swedish national consciousness, it has been appropriated to become a lifestyle buzzword for the year.
So what exactly is this nouveau lagom, and how does one live it? We’ve gone the extra step to come up with a guide on living lagom, Singaporean-style.
Lagom is all about not letting things go to waste, because waste is excessive. Start off simple by packing your lunch to work. It counts as making a conscious choice to live healthy. Don’t get plastic lunchboxes though, because another key aspect of lagom is sustainability. Instead, try a metal tingkat. You can pack more food, or all three meals if you wish!. If you have no time to cook, bring your stylish tingkat to the kopitiam and fill it up with some economical rice. What an aesthetic.
Photo: Tingkat Delivery
This principle is especially appropriate since the Public Utilities Board just increase the price of water by 30% here. Some tips include swapping out baths for showers, cutting bath time to five minutes, and exploiting the flash showers to harvest rain you can wash your floor and car with. The hot(ter) season is about to arrive so why not make the most of these errant rains?
Photo: Vena Cava
Lagom is all about good financial management, and not spending beyond what you need. Start up a spreadsheet to keep track of your spending, and make easy swaps for quick savings. Say bye to café-hopping, and hello to the neighbourhood kopitiam. Do you really need those Stan Smiths, or could you settle for Bata? Instead of Uber or Grab, wake up earlier to channel a sardine in public transport. Spend cash instead of swiping cards. So simple!
Hold up, we know lagom is all about cutting excess from your life, but going dry just seems excessive to us. Isn’t this supposed to be about work/life balance? C’mon.
Photo: Self Magazine
Remember those three Rs you were forced to practise in primary school? Well, reduce, reuse and recycle are fundamental to lagom. Aside from sorting out trash and making trips to your neighbourhood recycling bin, try to cut the use of plastic as much as you can. It’s time to get yourself one of those swanky NTUC supermarket totes. If lagom really takes off, you’ll be at the forefront of trendsetting.