Elisabeth Carlsson is Swedish but has lived in Britain for many years and this delightful little book, illustrated with many lovely photographs, introduces us to the idea of lagom. It is the concept of balance in all areas of one’s life, the notion of not too much and not too little.
The author uses examples from many aspects of life, even including neurobiology and psychology to explain lagom in terms of the Goldilocks Principle. Professor Amy Arnsten from Yale coined the Goldilocks Principle to describe optimal pre-frontal cortex functioning in terms of planning, organising and decision making where spending time stressing about such issues is as detrimental to our mental wellbeing as not being sufficiently focused or engaged. We are probably all familiar with someone who is so focussed on an immediate issue that they are unable to see the bigger picture.
Whether it is work/life balance, eating well, exercise or even the way we furnish our home, The Lagom Life has valuable advice and suggestions. The ideas of balance and harmony fit in well with the current popularity of mindfulness in all aspects of our lives. Carlsson discusses the increasingly important ideas of moderation, but not depriving oneself, and sustainability in terms of what we eat, how to reduce waste, and she also provides some recipes.
The book suggests we can develop the idea of lagom/balance/harmony through a heightened awareness of the interconnectedness of ourselves with other people and our environment. The author makes the point that the move towards cooking with our own home grown veggies is clearly related to reconnecting with nature, enjoying really fresh food, and reducing chemicals and the carbon footprint of much of our food. Of course, this is not a new idea, rather a rediscovery of the delights of simple cooking with quality ingredients.
This book is definitely not one of the 100s that tell you ‘How to be Happy’. As we all have different ways of achieving and being happy, the author derides the flood of books with ‘cookie cutter’ directions on happiness. If you are living a lagom life then you are content with yourself but also open to new ideas, possibilities and experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed the advice, recipes and photographs in the book and definitely recommend it.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Penguin Australia
Release Date: November 2017
RRP: $19.99 paperback