Last year Finland topped the World Happiness Report, in which 156 countries were ranked by happiness levels, based on factors such as freedom, honesty, welfare, good health, and generosity.
In Finland, there isn’t extreme wealth nor extreme poverty. Finnish people believe in balance, not being too rich or too poor. As a result, they place more value on their family, friends, and community. Ultimately, according to the Finns, balance is the formula for happiness.
How to define happiness though?
According to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Institute in Denmark happiness is the satisfaction with the way one’s life is going. Not how much you’re smiling or laughing, but how one feels with the course of one’s life.
Happiness is people’s sense of personal freedom to make important life choices. When you feel you can shape your life the way you want, you feel happy. What’s more, having someone we can rely on in times of need, or to share our hopes or worries is, another big indicator of happiness.
Without further ado, here are 6 practical tips on how to be happy like Finnish people do.
1. Sweat in a sauna
There is nothing more Finnish than a sauna, it is such a big part of Finnish culture it can’t be compared to anything else. For Finns, it is a must at regular intervals, and if they go too long without sauna, they’ll start feeling incomplete. Needless to say, the sauna makes them very happy.
2. Walk in the forest
There is something magical about the forest and the Finnish soul has always been linked with it. The green color is calming; the gentle rustling of the leaves and pine needles is like music. Finns feel good in the forest. Not alone, not lost – the forest provides protection and peace.
3. Swim in a hole in the ice
Believe it or not, swimming in icy water really does you the world of good. Quite simply, the secret of plunging into icy water lies in the feeling that surges through your body once you get out of the water – as soon as you’re back on dry land your circulation kicks in and your body starts to warm up and makes you feel, well, happy.
4. Picking berries
Berry-picking is something nearly all Finns do, regardless of age. Wandering in the woods, deep in thoughts, filling your basket with blueberries…it is a Finnish kind of therapy for the soul. Once home, you bake a delicious blueberry pie and eat it with milk. It’s the simple things that make you happy.
5. Enjoy the magical lights
Contrasts are a key factor in the allure of Finland where 24-hour sunlight in the summer replaces the dark winter days and blazing Northern Lights. Summer in Finland is a spectacular time of the year. For those who venture north of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set at all from May to August – making a single summer’s day last for three months. During winter the Northern Lights shine about every other clear night between September and March. Who wouldn’t be happy under such a constant, spectacular light show?
6. Enjoy space
In the rush and crush of modern life, the rarities are what make us happy, such as space, quiet, and time. The space to breathe, a time to dream, to run on a field that’s not miles away from the city. And you can find these treasures in Finland, where the lakes are many and the people are few.
In conclusion, happiness is not a singular path. But Finnish people are teaching us that the closer to nature, the happier our souls become.