Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die; and then dies having never really lived.”Dalai Lama
In a country where the economy is driven by consumerism – thriving when its citizens spend more than they make, lagom is a Swedish concept that has largely escaped American culture.
Lagom is synonymous with moderation, balance and perfectly simple. The word lagom means ‘just the right amount’.
In response to increasing anxiety and burnout, several popular movements are on the rise with devoted followers. The new minimalist’s along with the F.I.R.E. movement (Financially Independent Retire Early) are leading the way with extreme ideas that are yielding amazing results. Both concepts center on ‘less is more’ and living smaller so that you may live bigger.
Acquiring stuff causes storage problems which leads to bigger houses. $70,000 worth of cars are parked in the driveway while junk is safely secured in the garage. Maintenance swallows up our precious Saturdays. Bigger houses, full of stuff, become a burden instead of the key to our happiness as promised.
‘Keeping up with the Jones’s’ has become the invisible but powerful force that has driven our economy upward at the expense of its workers. Big homes, flashy cars, expensive gadgets and salon bills that rival car payments have become America’s norm. Overtime and debt are the means to fuel the American dream, leaving its people anxious and unhappy.
Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has spurred a movement of mini hoarders taking back their lives. Giving up items can be difficult as the person may feel guilty for the expense, especially if the purchase is still lingering on a credit card balance. Marie gently thanks each item for its duty and wills it to a good home. Letting go is a good first step.
The old model for the American dream was to work until age 65, collect social security and own a home. Hanging out on the golf course and traveling through Europe was promised (through clever marketing) to devoted workers, the reward for playing the game of life. When reaching the golden 65th year however, new retirees are left feeling jilted when the reality of age rears its ugly head. Ginormous prescription bills and failing health force senior citizens to choose between their heart medications or their electric bill. Depression often develops due to lack of meaningful activities and failing health. The ‘Golden Years’ become the dark ages.
There is a new model for the American dream that encompasses minimalism, Kon Mari method, F.I.R.E., Locavore movement, essentialism and mindfulness. It is lagom.
The younger generation is embracing this innovative paradigm shift in the American dream. Many are living with less, finding joy in human experiences rather than expensive gadgets. Some are working like maniacs and living like couch surfers in order to save for a very early retirement. Others are getting out of debt and cutting back their work hours in order to enjoy life’s nuggets while their health is still good. Year-long sabbaticals are negotiated into job contracts. The art of finding balance is at the core.
This newest generation of workers are mastering the art of thrifting and up-cycling. They are living in vans and tiny homes, shunning hyper-consumerism and peer pressure. They are paving new paths as they try to figure out life on their own.
5 Blogs to Follow
What may appear as weird or irresponsible today may soon become the new norm tomorrow.
- Mr. Money Mustache – Mr Money Mustache is a thirty-something retiree who now writes about how we can all live a frugal yet Badass life of leisure
- The Frugalwoods – A young couple with two children who achieved financial independence through simple living.
- Physician on FIRE – An anesthesiologist writes about personal finance and his journey to retiring early. He drastically cut back work to enjoy life while his health is still good.
- Budgets Are Sexy – A good place to start.
- Becoming Minimalist – An idea was born while talking to a neighbor. Joshua Becker realized his ‘stuff’ was stealing his precious life.