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The IKEA Effect

First of all, there’s a uniquely Swedish word with no direct translation into English; lagom. It means ‘not too much’, ‘not too little’, ‘adequate’ or ‘sufficient’. I like to think of it as Goldilocks’ porridge and bed situation or, just about right. You can have a lagom amount of food on your plate, live in a lagom house, and have your heating set to a lagom temperature.

Lagom bleeds into the Swedish idea of social fairness and goes some way to explaining why Sweden doesn’t produce rap stars. While Kanye West flaunts his bling and brags about his excess, his Swedish equivalent would be rapping about how well-insulated and fuel-efficient his moderate abode is.

The social fairness aspect of lagom explains why Swedish streets are litter-free - not because Swedes fear fines but because they think dropping litter would make the street less nice for other people. Whereas my litter-strewn street has bags of dog poo hanging from the tree branches like some sort of all-year festival of faeces.

Speaking of #2s, here’s the second link between IKEA and happiness. We’ve all built a Billy bookcase and we know that there’s an art to piecing it together. It’s so devilishly complicated that what you thought would be a one hour job has taken you all of Saturday and well into Sunday. There’s been a lot of cursing and the palm of your hand is bruised as you screw the last pieces together. All done, you look at your handiwork and feel proud. Your IKEA masterpiece holds a special place in your heart because of the effort expended.

And it’s the same with life. It’s devilishly complicated trying to piece it together and you’ll appreciate it more if you’ve had to struggle a bit. So, chill, grab a cuppa and take a moment to admire your magnificent handiwork.

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Posted by: Art of Brill