For the last few years, we have seen just how quickly the world has become obsessed with Scandinavian trends.
First, it was “Hygge“, which can be translated as “cosiness”. After all, how could one resist the idea of having small moments of happiness and comfort in your life?
Originally spelled as “Hugge”, the trend is about creating an atmosphere in your home that encourages both your mind and body to relax. It’s also about lighting candles, the smell of hot chocolate on a Sunday night, a comfy throw blanket and knitwear, all praising spending time with your friends, family, and loved ones, away from the fuzz and buzz of daily life.
But as this Danish way of living has slowly grown into a huge movement for the past couple of years, another Scandinavian word has been quietly appearing on the horizon.
The word is “Lagom” and it can be roughly translated as “just the right amount”. It differs from Hygga’s hard-to-understand feeling of cosiness in one that it’s more about being fair, frugal and creating balance. And while hygge is a momentary state of happiness, “lagom” can be perceived as a way of living.
How Can You Incorporate “Lagom” Into Your Life?
The word derives from a shortening of the phrase “laget om”, which literally means “around the team”. Lagom is the middle, the median, the appropriate – just the right amount of everything.
The Swedish proverb, “Lagom är bäst”, literally means, “The right amount is best” but is also translated as “Enough is as good as a feast”. These translations explain the main idea about living a simpler way of life, in a more intentionally conscious manner and embracing all forms of balance. The whole point is to be mindful about making choices that make you feel good.
Save more, be less stressed at work, and invest more time and funds into your art and hobbies. This is the mindset and foundation behind “lagom”.
As spring comes in, many people realise it’s time to clean and prepare their homes for the forthcoming season. For the Scandinavians, this is the time when they spend the weekend to clean the whole house, especially the grimy windows after all the snow and salt that has besieged them. By doing this, you slowly realise in just what type of mess you have been living in during the dark winter and maybe a unit like the Morphy steam cleaner can ease your way with chores?
And here comes the new Scandinavian trend. A “Swedish death cleaning” may sound dramatic, but it’s actually an useful technique to organise that we can all incorporate.
Recently, this concept received huge attention thanks to a book called “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter” by Margareta Magnusson.
So What Is Death Cleaning?
Dö is “death” and städning means “cleaning.”
In Swedish, it is a term that means that you remove unnecessary things and make your home nice and orderly as you’re preparing yourself for the afterlife. It’s also about, minimising the amount of stuff (clutter, junk, things you do not really need, etc.) that you will end up leaving behind for others to deal with. And if you think this is only meant to be for people over 50, you will be surprised how good you can feel getting rid of a bunch of clutter in your life. In her book, Magnusson shares that she has moved 17 times in her life, so she has a wealth of experience and know-how to share about decluttering.
But How Can You “Swedish Death Clean” Your Home And Life?
“Sometimes you just realise that you can hardly close your drawers or barely shut your closet door. When that happens, it is definitely time to do something, even if you are only in your thirties,” Magnusson says.
You could call that kind of cleaning döstädning, too, even if you may be many, many years away from actually passing away. Clean your closet and get rid of things you don’t wear on a regular basis. You can do this at least once a year. Packaging your clothes as seasons change is a great step toward your Swedish death cleaning routine. The concept is also a great way for couples moving in to handle interior and home decor challenges.
And make sure to give away some of your possessions to friends and relatives while you are at it. Make a nice present for a friend by giving away a book you know he or she will like.
Organise these small memories from your high school or love letters and friendship gifts into a single box with nothing else inside. The second point of this life philosophy is to keep your dear memories, share them with friends, and to expunge the bad ones or all the things you don’t use. You can turn this into a great family/friends experience. For instance, they can come over and look through your items to see if there is something they want for themselves before you donate or toss anything.
Learn how to avoid the temptation of shopping for useless things. Life is not only about hoarding objects, but also about the memories you have from even something small, like watching a movie, spending time in the garden, or having a lunch with your family.
There can be something very empowering and healthy about taking care of your own space and making it more organised. In addition, death cleaning may offer great benefits for you and your family. Clutter in your home can raise stress levels and reduce productivity and cutting it down is nothing but healthy.
“Lagom and its psychology can teach us how to avoid getting attached to objects and to do so to moments and emotions instead. Also, by downsizing our belongings we can more easily take the decision to move out, change workplaces, or even move to another country.” says Michael K. Rich, a Strong Move professional.
Feng Shui Meets the Swedish Death Cleaning
It is difficult to be excited about clearing your own clutter rather than dealing with other people’s clutter —especially for feng shui-minded people. The reason most avoid clearing their own clutter is not because it takes effort and it can be time-consuming but because of the emotional attachments to it.
Accepting that your clutter will be hard to deal with is winning half the battle. The other half is to use smart and simple feng shui tips to make the battle fun.
- Gather the supplies you need and start with three boxes. Label them “In,” “Out” and “I Don’t Know.” By doing this, you will quickly learn what you actually want to keep.
- Identify all your clutter, because it’s stealing your energy. Your garage or attic is not the right place to hide it, either.
- Plan the time for cleaning your clutter. The first few times, you should spend no more than 30 minutes per session.
So, the Asian and Scandinavian people may not look too different in their ideas of keeping our home well organised and clean. That’s why so many people turn to the Marie Kondo’s book. As a Japanese organising consultant, she can give us ideas on how to keep all the things that bring joy in our life, and get rid of all the rest. Once we have done this, she explains how to put every item in a place where it’s visible and within reach. Only then, Kondo says, will you reach the nirvana of housekeeping.
Are You Curious as to Why This Trend Comes from a Scandinavian Country?
The Scandinavian design is a philosophy characterised by clean lines, functionality, and simplicity. According to these design principles, everything should be in harmony with the environment, and things should be made to last rather than be easily replaceable. The main purpose of Scandinavian home design is to improve daily life.
Is It Worth It Start Your Death Cleaning?
“Swedish death cleaning” can make you feel happier and it perfectly fits in the minimalism movement. Psychology explains the minimalism with the idea that happiness comes from relationships and experiences rather than stuff.
When you get rid of the excess stuff in your life, you can focus on what is really important to you and makes you truly happy. Another solid reason to embrace this concept is that you may feel less stressed and more focused once you’re living in a clean and organized home while it will also boost the curb appeal in case you have to consult a property cash buyer.
If you are looking to try something outside your comfort zone, parting with possessions will help you see that you can live with less and feel happy. You won’t know for sure is this the right thing for you unless you try!
Furthermore, organising your things while you are still with your loved ones is part of accepting the idea that our life has its end. Wouldn’t you feel better to know that when your time has come your family will be celebrating your life, rather than figuring out what to do with your stuff?
This piece was written by Dmitri who runs the “Home & Love” and loves to write for various outlets and blogs.