What could you learn from the happiest country in the world? Do you know what country currently holds the mantel for The Happiest Country in the World?
This might come as a surprise to some (mostly to Finns themselves) but it is in fact the Northernmost EU country, Finland. It tops the UN’s happiness ranking, again.
Okay, happiness is an abstract matter that we all perhaps measure differently. But as scientific measurements go, and as someone who grew up in the said country, and has since lived in multiple other countries, I really can’t argue with the findings.
A lot of Finland’s happiness rating is definitely due to the country’s outstanding and free education and healthcare systems. In Finland it doesn’t matter what sort of family you’re from or how rich or poor you may be. You’re given exactly the same tools and opportunities in your early life as everyone else, regardless.
Perhaps your family can’t travel as much a the neighbours, but at the end of the day, as long as you have a sound general education, and your health is looked after since childhood, you’ve got the perfect base to build on. No matter if what you want to build is becoming an astronaut or an environmental activist, you choose what you want to become and work towards it.
While there isn’t much that you can do about changing the base systems in your country, and the way the country is run, you do still have power over your own life.
Social media and the whole world around us is creating unrealistic expectations for us, but the only people putting the pressure on us to achieve those unrealistic things are ourselves.
Instead of falling into the fakeness-trap that social media is to its core, you might instead do well to consider taking a few life-lessons from the happiest people on the planet:
What You Could Learn From The Happiest Country In The World?
Learn to appreciate free time
This point has been brought home to me largely due to my encounters with American people. It’s completely normal to have 3 jobs in the States, whereas in Finland it’s almost unheard of. A job’s function is to pay you enough so that you are able to live a life. It sounds like in the States this is often not the case.
In Finland employees just as well as employers value free time over everything else. That is the time on which you have full power: you decide how to spend it and what to do with it.
It’s no wonder there is so much burnout going around, if free time is not a priority. The work-life balance is completely off for most of us, and it’s causing incredible amounts of unnecessary stress and misery.
But the world will not collapse if you schedule a bit more free time for yourself, learn to leave the work at the office, and especially learn to kick the useless guilt in the head. If there’s anything you’d do well to learn from the happiest country, it’s this.
In Finland we, in fact, value free time so much that we have more holidays per year than any other country I’ve ever heard of.
So much so, that we often take altogether 4 weeks off work in a row. This happens on such a large scale, and is such a normal thing, that it is often said that Finland is “closed” for July. We work to be able to forget about professional responsibilities and spend our free time the way we see fit.
Okay, in Finland it’s easy to value nature because over 70% of the country is covered in forest areas. Finland is a long country, stretching from leafy South to the deserts of magical Lapland up North. So, there’s a lot of different kinds of nature to explore.
Even a short walk in nature boosts your well-being without you even noticing: green colour is well-known for its ability to lower stress levels and blood pressure, and this automatically shows as improved mood.
In addition, benefits of enjoying some time in nature include boosting the immune system and increasing your ability to focus. This has been proven to work even for children with ADHD. When you combine all of these things, it’s quite obvious that your ability to sleep is also improved. And that reflects to your overall well-being hugely.
I live in the city center, but knowing the power of nature in regards to my well-being, I regularly visit the leafy park and the forest behind it just a kilometer away from my front door. Whether just a walk or a proper run, I always feel rejuvenated and energized when I return from there.
Take responsibility of yourself
Finnish people are raised to be very independent from a very young age. I had my first Summer job when I was only 13 (not full-time, of course) and I traveled alone for the first time when I was 15. Finns move to their own apartments on average at the age of 17-19.
Being taught to be independent from such a young age can have its cons but in most parts, it does contribute to our happiness. We do not rely on anyone else on anything. We can cope.
Now, I’m not saying that nobody else than Finns can cope, but what do most of us do when we feel down or lost in our lives?
We google and we read dozens and dozens of guides on how to feel and be this and that. We then do the required 10-step programs to reach the ultimate happiness in everything… And we find ourselves disappointed.
Many of us strive to be better: better employees, better mothers, better friends, better for everyone else. But what about ourselves? Aren’t you important enough to feel just as good as your friends, family and boss?
Let me answer that for you: YES YOU ARE!
Admit that to yourself, and then it’s time to get to work: you are the only one responsible for your own happiness, nobody else. So, it’s you who needs prioritize you, nobody else.
If time alone is required, take it. But bear in mind, you will need to take it, because own time is rarely given. If you’d like to get a more challenging job, go for it. If you’d like to go to a Halloween party, but nobody’s arranging one, arrange one.
Stop complaining about every inevitability of our miserable lives and take control of yours! Because when you do, you will quickly notice amazing changes in the people around you and the way you feel about yourself. People like to be led by examples, so why not be that example?
At the end of the day, the lesson to learn from the happiest country is very simple: appreciating the little mundane things about our everyday lives and not being a victim of life. We only live once. So, let’s make this one life the best we ever have! ♥
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