I’ve lived a cluttered life—apart from a few brief moments of organization—for most of my adult years.
Yet, as an adult who deep down craves simplicity – and is beginning to understand the joy of decluttering – I feel a constant need to debunk the myth that complicated equals successful.
This need comes from friends and acquaintances who equate a hectic schedule with productivity and success.
It comes from family who sees any pursuit of minimalism as really quite dumb.
(Why would you throw away that moth-eaten t shirt? It has at least 3 years left in it!)
It comes from a society that correlates possessions with wealth and happiness, no matter what you say.
In response to this, several questions spring to mind:
Why is it that we tend to value complexity over simplicity?
Is it normal to equate an organized life with being boring or unadventurous?
If I’m honest, I do believe there’s too much societal emphasis on working ourselves to the bone, and not enough on the tranquility that we could all use a little more of.
The result is that many people end up living chaotic lives based on expectations that are difficult to sustain.
So without further ado, let me show you these 6 Swedish secrets that have helped me navigate towards a simpler, more organized life:
In the fast-paced world we live in, the suggestion to slow down might seem counterproductive.
Yet, the Swedish concept of ‘Paus‘, or ‘Pause’ is an essential secret to a simpler, more organized life.
Reflect on your daily routine for a moment.
There’s a high probability it’s filled with back-to-back tasks, leaving you no time to just be.
The emails in your inbox, the meetings in your calendar, the endless to-do lists…
You never get a chance to stop and breathe…
Or do you?
If you’re going to embrace a simpler life, it’s crucial to realize that doing less allows you to achieve more.
At the end of the day, you’re not in control of time; it flows independently.
And it’s crucial that you let go of the illusion that busyness equates to productivity.
Because the more you overwhelm yourself, the less you tend to get done.
Your efficiency comes from allocating ample time for each task and taking regular breaks and when you incorporate that ‘Paus‘.
If you can stop equating speed with success and start creating conditions in your life where you take regular pauses, you won’t need to race against time.
You will be able to give up on controlling every minute of your life, and instead, let time serve you.
In a world where quick coffee breaks are the norm, the idea of taking time to sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee and engage in conversation might seem like a luxury…
But this is precisely what the Swedish tradition of ‘Fika‘ advocates for.
It is not just that cup of coffee and pastry (maybe cinnamon bun or a Mazarin), but a premium coffee break where you’re allowed to rest and catch up with friends and family.
Consider your current typical day:
It’s likely filled with hurried meals eaten in front of a screen (you don’t even taste them), brief exchanges with colleagues (who you barely like), and a lack of real connection.
If you’re going to embrace a simpler life, it’s vital to recognize that taking time for connection and relaxation isn’t wasteful – it’s necessary.
You’re not in control of every minute; some moments are meant to be savored (ideally with that sweet pastry in one hand.)
It’s important to let go of the illusion that constant movement equates to progress, because it doesn’t.
If you can stop seeing relaxation as a waste of time and start taking a leaf out of Swedish traditions and incorporate Fika-like breaks, you’ll be on track to becoming far more organised and content.
In a world dominated by screens and artificial light, the idea of spending time outdoors might seem archaic.
Who has time for nature when you have screens calling?!
But the Swedish practice of ‘Friluftsliv‘ or ‘open-air living’ is a potent secret.
Have a look at your surroundings: it’s likely a mix of synthetics, plastics, and probably artificial light.
The digital screens, and air conditioning – do they truly nourish your well-being?
Or do they contribute to a sense of disconnection from nature and yourself?
If you’re going to embrace a simpler life, it’s critical to understand that spending time in nature isn’t a quaint pastime – it’s essential for your well-being.
Your health and clarity of mind come from immersing yourself in nature.
If you can stop seeing outdoor time as optional and start creating conditions in your life where you regularly engage with nature, your mood and productivity will likely soar.
It’s no myth that immersing ourselves in nature does wonders for not only our happiness but also our health and wellbeing.
And a big part of that is also respecting nature.
Take only memories, leave only footprints-style.
So yes, pick up your trash after going on your nature stroll!
In a world where hiring help for cleaning and organizing is increasingly common, the idea of doing it yourself might seem outdated.
But the Swedish practice of ‘Städning‘, a term for cleaning and organizing, is an essential part of a simpler, more organized life.
Now, my home used to be a chaotic mix of objects, with no particular order or logic.
The cluttered drawers, the overflowing closets, and the stacked-up dishes – they were all signs of my disorganized life.
I felt overwhelmed and stressed most of the time.
However, when I embraced more aspects of ‘Städning‘, I realized that cleanliness and organization weren’t chores to be outsourced but practices to be embraced by yours truly.
I began decluttering one drawer at a time, organizing one shelf each day.
And with each organized space, I felt a sense of accomplishment and peace.
Over time, I realized that maintaining a clean and organized home wasn’t just about aesthetics or convenience.
It was about taking responsibility for my surroundings and in turn, my life.
It was learning to live clutter-free and germ-free; letting go of material possessions and also bettering my health.
If you can stop seeing cleaning as a chore and start embracing it as a practice, your life will also become more fluid and enjoyable.
You will be able to give up on controlling every speck of dust and instead, let the practice of ‘Städning’ teach you how to harmonize cleanliness and order.
The concept of ‘Mys‘ (pronounced mees), a term that loosely translates to ‘cozy up’, is an integral part of Swedish culture.
It’s often associated with the creation of a warm, welcoming environment.
Sweden is known for its long, harsh winters, with daylight hours being minimal during peak winter months.
This could be a recipe for gloom and lethargy, but Swedes have turned this into an opportunity to embrace ‘Mys‘.
It can be snuggly blankets, mulled wine, comfort foods.
All those elements that turn dark and despairing winter nights into welcoming and cozy fun.
As winter approaches, ‘Mys‘ can provide a sense of comfort and security for those who aren’t the biggest fans of the cold.
It’s a reminder that we have the power to turn lemons into lemonade and take charge of our environment; even if it’s not initially what we’d ideally like.
In a world where holding grudges and seeking revenge often seems easier than forgiving, the Swedish practice of ‘Förlåt‘ or ‘forgiveness’ may seem like a begrudging task.
(Pardon the pun).
Yet, it is crucial to a happy life.
Harbouring resentment or anger towards someone is like carrying a heavy load.
It weighs you down, disrupts your mental peace, and keeps your life cluttered with negative emotions.
If you’re going to embrace a simpler life, it’s crucial to understand that forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s an act of pure strength.
You’re not in control of other people’s actions; they behave according to their understanding and circumstances.
It’s important to let go of the illusion that holding onto resentment will bring you justice or peace. It won’t.
Your peace comes from releasing the burden of resentment.
And this doesn’t have to be excusing or justifying those who did you harm.
Rather, it’s relinquishing the power their actions held over you and letting that go.
And no, it by no means requires you to reintroduce someone into your life who you decided to move on from.
But if you can stop seeing forgiveness as a defeat and start embracing it as a tool for personal growth, you won’t need to carry the weight of past wrongs.
You will be able to relinquish the heavy weight of every past hurt, and instead allow the power of forgiveness free you.
Simplicity lies within
As we navigate through our own lives amid the constant hustle and bustle, these Swedish secrets serve as gentle reminders that simplicity and organization are not just about decluttering our physical spaces.
They’re also about decluttering our minds, nurturing our relationships, and ultimately leading a life that brings us joy and contentment.
So next time you feel overwhelmed by the chaos of life, try and think back to some of these Swedish concepts.
They may not be the magic potion for an instantly simpler life, but they certainly can help pave the way towards a more balanced and fulfilling existence.