Finland is surely not well-known for the sunny paradise, neither the richest country on the list nor the top tourist destination. So how can it be the country which has been crowned as the happiest nation around the world in 5 consecutive years by The World Happiest Report?
Finnish must have a recipe to maximize the contentment despite an inhospitable climate and long periods of cold and darkness. Here are 7 highlights that we can take away from the secret of Finnish happiness, so we, too can learn to apply a few or all to our life.
1. Practice the art of inner strength, or Sisu
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Finnish sisu is so simple and straightforward that sometimes it takes a whole day to explain it. While it is nearly impossible to translate "sisu" into English, the closest translation would be similar to the strength of will or focusing on perseverance, viewing the odds as opportunities. This principle is applied in countless ways, from maintaining well-being in daily life or an approach to ending homelessness. Whether it is raining or snowing, Finns just put the right clothes on, and get out to spend time in nature, or cycling to work as long as it sparks happiness in their hearts.
2. Surrounding with nature
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Have you ever heard of "forest therapy"? In Finland, we believe that nature has its own healing powers. Therefore, Finns love to spend time in natural areas like forests, lakes, or rivers. In fact, forests cover 75% of Finland's land - the most forests in Europe, so it is not hard for Finns to go to woodland. People also have "everyman's right" which allows everyone to wander freely in the wood.
3. Different but the same with your community
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It is common for Finns to go to a sauna to purify the body and soul. A unique national culture of Finland is naked togetherness either at the public or private sauna. Finns come to sauna with a mindset of equality and freedom. Leaving behind the sauna's door all the profession, societal status, or material possessions like clothes, Finn believes that it creates lasting effects on well-being that go beyond relaxing muscles and the mind. Equality has always been a top priority list that Finland has made a clear point to keep.
4. Living the Nordic minimalism
Finns embrace Nordic minimalism. Therefore, Finnish designs are always well-made, sustainable, as well as functional products that will stand the test of time. This living style is not only good for your budget and the environment but it makes you feel good, too! Quality products with good designs always make happiness last.
5. Early start of happiness
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A happy childhood is believed a good seed for adult life. In Finland, a strong social system ensures that early essentials like schooling, safety, and healthcare are more than met for all children. Children are strongly recommended to spend time in nature and outdoor from an early age. As a relatively safe country, children can walk home from school starting at the early age of seven or eight, which also fosters a healthy sense of independence.
6. Stay humble
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If there’s one characteristic that applies to almost all Finns, it’s extreme modesty. Finns tend not to boast about their own achievement, they keep the happiness for themselves. Hence, Finns don't usually compare themselves to others and causing them to miss out on the moments happening away from their life.
7. Embrace the darkness and hardness
Finland is a country with extremes: long dark winter day versus midnight sun day, the cold minus temperature outside with hot temperature in the sauna. Welcome to Finland, the happiest country in the world.
Finns accept the darkness as well as hardness as a part of everyday life. Combining with Sisu spirits, Finns are willing to embrace the down aspects of life and learn to accept life for what it is. This actually has a positive effect on the happiness of Finns when they are not trying to suppress the negative emotions and learn to embrace them. There is a Finnish proverb that best describes how Finns define happiness - "Happiness does not come from searching for it, but by living itself".
Many things in Finland are far from perfect, but it's important to remind ourselves that a happy life is more worth it than a perfect life! So, what makes you smile today?