Hygge, Lagom, or Ikigai? Your guide to living life to the fullest

  • Posted by Alicia Drewnicki
  • On August 16, 2018
Lagom, hygge or Ikigai - Living Life to the Fullest

The Danish concept of cosiness; ‘hygge’, has taken the world by storm. So much so, that it even became a home decor trend last year. It’s all about living a particular lifestyle—one that involves soft lighting, blankets, slippers, and hot chocolate by an open fire. Yes, please!

Following on from the hygge hype, plenty of other international ‘lifestyle concepts’ have been surfacing, but which one is best for you?

We decided to save you time and do an Honestly Good roundup of some of the most interesting philosophies of good living. Enjoy!


1) Hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hoo-gah, or higgey)

Hygge Cosy

What it means:

Where it originates: Denmark.

In a nutshell: It’s an appreciation of all things warm, snuggly, cosy, and homely. The key idea is to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, while in the company of friends and family. It’s about slowing down, being present, and creating special moments in your nest of cosy contentment.

“(Hygge is a…) complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming,” with “a focus on togetherness and prioritizing the people in your life.” – Helen Russell, The Year of Living Danishly.

Reasons to do it: Denmark has been ranked as one of the world’s happiest countries so they must be doing something right. It’s motivating to think that simple changes to your living space can lead to a happier life.

Tips for living a hygge life: It all begins with decor and creating a hyggelig’ atmosphere in your home – think natural earthy colours, faux-fur cream rugs, oversized knitted blankets, shaggy rugs, mood lighting, and LOTS of candles. Open fires with log piles win top marks, but if you don’t have a fire, just concentrate on the natural wood furnishings.

Certain situations can be described as hygge, for example, snuggling up with your partner and watching a movie together, taking the time to brew a special type of tea and drinking it from a favourite mug, eating dinner by candlelight, or wearing your favourite jogging bottoms and slippers.

Lagom (pronounced lah-gohm)

lagom living


What it means: Not too little, not too much, just right.

Where it originates: Sweden.

In a nutshell: It’s the Swedish art of balanced living, and is all about having just the right amount of everything. Instead of living on extremes, it’s about consistently living somewhere in the middle of not enough and too much.

Reasons to do it: Sweden ranks very highly on international happiness and productivity levels. It’s also easier on the bank balance than Hygge, as it’s about decluttering, being frugal, and incorporating balance into your life.

Tips for living a Lagom life: Firstly, think of Goldilocks when it comes to all aspects of your life, and aim for ‘just right’. Instead of working non-stop on your laptop, always take regular breaks. Instead of splurging money, take note and monitor your purchases. Make time for hobbies, exercising, spending time with your family, and meditation. Live sustainably, upcycle, recycle and keep your living space clutter-free. An easy way to declutter is to organise your items into three boxes: keep, donate, and throw away. Another way is the follow a ‘one in, one out’ rule for everything you buy.

Ikigai (pronounced ee-kee-guy)



Where it originates: Japan.

What it means: ‘Iki’ means ‘life’ and ‘gai’ means ‘value/worth’. So Ikigai = a reason for being/the thing that you live for.

In a nutshell: Finding joy through living a life of purpose. Ikigai is often represented by a Venn diagram which has circles that overlap. You’ll find your ikigai at the intersection of all of the circles. It’s about having a reason to get up in the morning, something to live for.


Ikigai venn

Reasons to do it: Japan has some of the oldest people in the world, and Ikigai could be a reason for it. Japanese people continue to find meaning in their lives after retirement. Also – another reason to practice Ikigai is that it’s incredibly rewarding to find your purpose in life. In fact, research has shown that those who feel purpose have healthier lives. Their passion and motivation protects them from burnout.

Tips for living an Ikigai life: Don’t put pressure on yourself to find the answers immediately, but be open to exploring the idea of a better life. Firstly, ask yourself what you love, as this will reveal your passion. Then ask yourself what you’re good at, as this will reveal your profession. When you question what the world needs, this will reveal your mission. Then finally, by asking what you can get paid for, will reveal your vocation. Don’t force yourself for answers straight away, but keep noting them over weeks, and be honest with yourself.

Your ikigai should challenge you, and lead to growth and mastery. Your ikigai must be something that makes you happy and boosts your well-being; giving you more energy than it takes away from you. Try and visualise what a day living your ikigai could feel like. Be mindful of your actions, and find happiness in living.


We hope that this summary has given you some inspiration for living life to the fullest. We love hearing from you – so if you enjoyed this, and would like a Part 2, to tell you about other lifestyle philosophies such as ‘Friluftsliv’, ‘Fika’, or ‘Kalsarikannit’ – say hello to us on social.

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