The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
One of the most interesting things about foreign travel is learning about the customs, lifestyles and favorite sports of people in other countries. But what can we learn about happiness from people in different countries around the world? That’s what the World Happiness Report published by the United Nations strives to answer in its annual survey.
And this year’s winner is Finland – again. Finland has topped the list of the world’s happiest countries five times in a row.
Looking at happier countries one way to find strategies for living a more satisfying life. But sometimes making a few lifestyle changes isn’t enough to get the boost you need, and it may be time to seek help. If you ever feel overwhelmed by current circumstances, take steps to get the support you need. Thankfully, there are more options for getting mental health help than ever before.
One option to consider is high quality online therapy. With online therapy, it’s often possible to be matched with a therapist within 24-48 hours. Certain platforms have options to message your therapist at any time from an in-app messaging system, plus meeting from home can also help make the therapy process more convenient. Whatever you decide to do, know that there’s help out there, and keep looking for ways to get the results you want in your life.
While there are many ways to seek better mental wellbeing, this article looks at some of the habits of the happy people in Finland and how you may be able to use them in your life.
The Finnish Philosophy OfSisu
You’ve probably heard of hygge (the Danish philosophy of comfort and coziness), but what do you know about sisu? Sisu is a Finnish word that embodies the culture’s stoicism and determination and roughly translates to “guts”. The Finnish people take pride in having sisu or the inner strength to persevere and being unafraid of new ideas. The Finish people have adapted to grueling cold and thrive in sub-zero temperatures. Finland also has a number of unique governmental policies designed to solve social issues, such as homelessness and childcare.
Different Expectations Can Increase Satisfaction
In Finland, people often express a level of satisfaction in life once they’ve met their basic needs. This attitude can stand in contrast from a country like the United States, where people connect their satisfaction to accumulating a never-ending series of material possessions. The constant striving for material things can lead to constantly escalating lifestyles and spending, as well as lower levels of satisfaction.
Try taking a page out of the Finnish book, take pleasure in simple things instead of waiting to have a certain kind of car or home to be happy. Showing gratitude for having food, clean water, and housing can lead to a more satisfaction in life.
There are many reasons why Finland is ranked the happiest country on the planet, one of the most striking reasons is their kindness. Finns place value on being kind to their family, their coworkers, and their larger community. When polled, the vast majority of the Finnish feel like the world could use more kindness.
Finns tend to believe in the transformative power of even small kindnesses, which can help make others feel seen and heard. Find ways to show more kindness at work and home, and don’t feel like you have to make a big gesture. You can feel the power of kindness by making even the smallest gesture to brighten someone’s day.
Did your mom ever tell you not to compare yourself with others? It’s hard to argue with that wisdom. The Finnish people have been described as having a cultural bias for avoiding unhealthy comparisons.
Society and social media are rife with curated images that promote unrealistic expectations, and we may be able to learn from the Finns here by not comparing ourselves to others. Track how often you make unhealthy comparisons and which situations are more likely to lead you to comparisons. Once you become aware, you can limit the behavior.
Finish People Feel Closer To Nature
Despite living in a harsh environment, the Finns revel in nature. Ice swimming in water frozen waters has been described as the national pastime, and they value time spent in nature as a way to enhance their peace of mind and feel more relaxed and energized.
It’s hard to argue with spending more time in nature. To emulate this Finnish happiness trait, try shifting gym workouts to hikes. Even taking a quick walk during lunch can give you a boost during the workday. Plus, look for ways to bring the outdoors inside. Play nature sounds of ocean waves and birds chirping to evoke the relaxation you get from being outdoors.
Research has shown that people who live in trustworthy countries tend to be happier, and Finland is one of the most trustworthy countries in the world. In a 2022 experiment, a number of lost wallets were dropped around Helsinki, Finland, and 11 out of 12 of the lost wallets were returned to their owners.
We can all find ways to value and reward truthfulness more often. Think about how you can be more intentional with your word.
Whether you feel inspired by Finland’s approach to happiness, we can all learn to embody the positive values we believe in and want to see more of in our communities. Looking at what happier countries do things can help each one of us to identify changes we want to make and promote happiness in the world around us.
v Doing positive things like avoiding comparisons and being in nature can be a boost to anyone’s mental health.
Finland Works Differently
Many Finnish companies have much flatter hierarchical charts, where employees often report directly to the head of the company. There also tend to be have less supervision of employees in Finland and other Nordic countries. This less hierarchical structure is often termed is often viewed as a reason for their positive work-life balance and high job satisfaction.
While you may not be in charge of who your manager is at work, you can feel good about making everyone in your work environment feel valued. Look for positive ways to promote healthy communication and healthier work-life balance.
Strong Support Systems in Finland
Finland ranks as the only developed country in the world where fathers spend more time than mothers with their young kids. Finland is known for a wide range of policies and laws designed to support families, which allows mothers and fathers to spend more time with their children in their formative years.
In this case, one of the best lessons to be taken from Finland is the way they value equality. While not everyone has a relationship where they can share childrearing, there may be opportunities to look to your extended family and community for support. If you do have a partner, find ways to encourage more equality and fairness in childcare duties.
In Finland, employees are entitled to four weeks of summer holiday.
Staggeringly, more than 80% of Finns trust their police force, which is far more than many other countries can claim.
- Research shows that the higher the levels of trust within a country, the happier its citizens are.
- A “lost wallet” experiment in 2022 tested the honesty of citizens by dropping 192 wallets in 16 cities around the world. In Helsinki, 11 out of 12 wallets were returned to the owner.
- Finnish people tend to trust each other and value honesty. If you forget your laptop in a library or lost your phone on the train, you can be quite confident you’ll get it back.
How can you support policies that build upon that trust? Small acts like opening doors for strangers or giving up a seat on the train makes a difference, too.
Measurements Of Happiness
- Finland has long been praised by a multitude of international bodies for its extensive welfare benefits, low levels of corruption, well-functioning democracy, and its instilled sense of freedom and autonomy. Its progressive taxation and wealth distribution has allowed for a flourishing universal healthcare system, and,
- The country is famous for being one of the first countries to push the flat working model, which exemplifies the Finnish approach to how businesses should be run, as well as how employees should be treated in the workplace.
- Income Equality
- When the gap between the rich and the poor is widening in most countries around the world, Finland has consistently worked to ensure that its poorest citizens are looked after. The fight against inequality is one that many countries continually struggle with, but Finland is one that has made a point to stay the course and keep it atop the priority list.
- As a result, this often leads to a significant increase in workplace productivity, team-cohesion, and has helped Finland pioneer agile working,
- Finish people value cooperation over comparison. They focus on the positive aspects of people around them, practice kindness, and choose not to compare themselves to others. Rather, they focus on their own values and what personally brings them the most happiness. A quote that resonates with this mindset is as follows, “When you focus on the good, the good gets better”. Most Finns also do not display or brag about their wealth.