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TEDx Bow Valley College: Lagom – Choosing Simplicity in a Complex World

  • TEDx Bow Valley College

TEDx Bow Valley College: Lagom – Choosing Simplicity in a Complex World
"The following blog post was written by  Emily Albertsen, a faculty member at the School of Global Access."

I had the recent pleasure of attending TEDx Bow Valley College. This is the fifth year that we have had a TEDx event at Bow Valley and the second year that I have been able to attend. I was delighted to set aside my own work for a few hours and listen to a series of speakers who were inspiring, challenging, thoughtful, and courageous.

The theme this year was lagom, a Swedish concept of intentionally cultivating simplicity. We live in a time when there is a lot of talk about work-life balance and yet the amount we are trying to balance seems to be constantly increasing. The idea of lagom is that we can choose to live simply. In reducing the amount that is on our shoulders we can better achieve a sense of sufficiency and with it peace and contentment. On a larger scale, when we practice lagom as a culture then we are also working toward sustainability.

The six speakers and the musical performers this year each interpreted lagom from their own contexts. Craig Elias spoke about entrepreneurship as a means to make a difference and make a living. He encouraged us to find our own “big, hairy, audacious goals.” Nadiya Manji replaced the notion of work-life balance with the ideas of presence and alignment. Tim Fox spoke of balance and sustainability, telling his story as an indigenous man. He noted the difference between imbalance and injustice and connected lagom with reconciliation. 

After the first three speakers there was a video of a TED talk by Emily Esfahani Smith, who spoke of why it is far more important – and effective – to pursue meaning rather than happiness in life. She discussed her four pillars of a meaningful life: belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling.

Following the video, Tamania Jaffri, of the blog Super Urdu Mom, spoke of having multiple layers of identity, being multi-lingual, and raising multi-lingual children in Calgary. Eugene Saldanha asked us to “STEP it up” to reach our goals. STEP – sacrifice, timing, execution, and perseverance – is a pattern for writing our own stories in our lives. Finally, there was a musical performance by Camila Lyons, David Alvarez, and Adam Muñoz.

The TEDx event this year left me feeling inspired and quietly thoughtful. The idea that resonated with me perhaps the most, and which each speaker demonstrated in his or her own way, was that we can choose what is most important to us – our work, our children, our families, our passions, our interests. In distilling and simplifying our lives we are also giving them focus. We can use the concept of lagom to shape the lives that we want to lead and build the world we want to live in.