Life Balance

 In recent months, people around the world have had to learn some important life lessons. The isolation that came with sheltering-in-place gave us the time to slow down our busy lives and think about what was truly important. We have learned to manage with less material things and to find alternative ways to entertain ourselves because many businesses were closed. The fear of potentially losing a loved one taught us to prioritize and value the people we hold dear. These life lessons, to slow down, to manage with less, and to prioritize what really matters, will hopefully remain ingrained in us as we return to a life that feels normal.

 Incorporating these lessons can create a life with balance.

The Swedish people have a solid grasp on living a balanced and meaningful life. It is a concept called “lagom.” According to Wikipedia, lagom is a Swedish and Norwegian word meaning "just the right amount."

“The word can be variously translated as "in moderation”, "in balance", "perfect-simple", and "suitable" (in matter of amounts). Whereas words like sufficient and average suggest some degree of abstinence, scarcity, or failure, lagom carries the connotation of appropriateness, although not necessarily perfection.”

More commonly, “lagom” is defined as “not too much, not too little, just right.” This definition reminds me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The beds, the chairs and the porridge are all tested until Goldilocks finds the one that is “just right.”

The extremes are often a tempting solution, but real-life balance can only be achieved with moderation.

I love the meaning of lagom or “just right” because it allows each person to determine just exactly what is “just right” for them. There is not a one-size fits all solution for living this way. Each person can find the balance that is just right.

Americans are often criticized for material consumption, or extreme amounts of diet, exercise or eating. Americans are heavier people as a whole, consuming more calories in a day than are necessary. Binge watching an entire series on Netflix is considered normal. Some don’t say “no” to themselves, but rather indulge in whatever is desired.

In contrast, the minimalism lifestyle has become popular.  The quest to declutter and live with less is the going trend but can be difficult for a person who has so much stuff.

One extreme is abundance, while the other is deprivation. Lagom is “just right.”

It may take a little bit of discipline to live with just enough.

When I first moved out of my parent’s home, I was so excited to go to the grocery store and buy the food I wanted. Sugary cereal, pop tarts, and chips were at the top of my list. Why? Because there was no one to tell me I couldn’t have those things. After I had my fill of these unhealthy foods, I had to be disciplined to purchase healthier options for snacks and meals.

Living a lifestyle of balance requires some discipline. It takes a conscious choice to say no to ourselves when we have reached a limit that is “just right.” The amount of screen time, binge watching, candy consumption, and so on, must be limited if we care enough about ourselves and want to live with balance.

Saying yes is also important. If we have deprived ourselves for months at a time to not eat chocolate, then we may just gorge on it when we finally give in to the temptation. It would be better to just enjoy chocolate in a small amount occasionally, then to try to eliminate it for long periods of time.

Look at each aspect of your life that feels unbalanced.

Ask yourself, “what feels out of balance?” Make a list of all the things in your life that feel out of balance or at the extreme ends of indulgence or deprivation.

Too much screen time? Too many hours at the gym? Not enough hours at the gym? Want to read more? Need to work more? Need more vegetables or less sweets?

Remind yourself that too much ends in feelings of overwhelm and too little leaves you wanting more.

Examine your priorities to determine what changes you need to make to bring your life into balance.

What are the most important things in your life? What are your priorities? What do you value? Knowing the answers to these questions will help guide you to making the necessary adjustments to create more balance.

A life of balance is worth the effort to attain.

When you can live with balance and give your attention to your priorities, you will begin to love your life. It is the key to becoming content. What is lagom to you? What amount of each one of your priorities is “just right” for you? Some changes you will make will be more difficult than others because we like to indulge ourselves. Remind yourself that the effort will be worth it. Focus on lagom. Embrace it and make it part of your life until it is "just right."



Featured photo by Dmytro Tolokonov on Unsplash.