lagom, hygge, ikigai

Have you heard of lagom, hygge, or ikigai? You have heard of one or two but not all three?

These three words from Sweden, Denmark. and Japan represent tools we can use to  “Celebrate the Ordinary.” And help us deal with irritating aspects of life today — pressures to constantly acquire and achieve more (“moreitus”); proliferation of choices (50 kinds of toothpaste, 100 kinds of shampoo, 80,000 kinds of coffee combinations at Starbucks); being busier than ever (what happened to the abundance of leisure time John Maynard Keynes predicted?).

Lagom from Sweden. Lagom generally means enough, sufficient, adequate, balanced, suitable, appropriate. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just find the right amount, there’s virtue in moderation. An age-old Swedish proverb: “Lagom är bäst” — “Lagom is best.”

Hygge from Denmark: Hygge was in the news in 2016 when it was on the shortlist for the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year. It means coziness and comfortable conviviality that produces a feeling of contentment and well-being. Hygge works nicely with lagom.

Ikigai from Japan, Ikigai roughly translates to “finding your purpose” or “a reason to get up in the morning.” The Japanese find ikigai in work and hobbies. Even retirees stay active with ikigai. The longevity Okinawans are known for is attributed in part to ikigai.

Winning combination: A moderate activity providing a feeling of contentment that we jump out of bed every morning to do.