Six things people do differently in the world's happiest country
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Finland has been labelled as the happiest country in the world and, even with no sunlight for weeks at a time throughout part of the year, Finnish people feel the most satisfied with their lives.
It's no secret that Nordic countries score highly when it comes to surveys on life satisfaction - in fact, Finland has taken the top spot as the world's happiest country for five years in a row.
According to mental health experts, there's a whole host of reasons why the people of Finland are so content with their lives. Most education is free and work-life balance is a priority, with holidays and time off work being plentiful. Healthcare cover is also in abundance for residents of Finland.
People are honest with their emotions
In Finland, it's also encouraged to be open and honest about your feelings. “There is more tolerance in saying, ‘it’s not ok’ or ‘I’m not feeling fine,’” said Meri Larivaara, the director of strategic affairs at MIELI Mental Health Finland.
Larivaara thinks that this emotional honesty could be part of what makes Finland such a happy place to be. As we all know, bottling up your emotions isn't good for you and, though sometimes it can be easier said than done, letting your emotions show can be beneficial for getting the help you need.
A better work-life balance
Finland is a hard-working country, but working hours are more reasonable and balanced, meaning that residents have plenty of time to rest and focus on themselves.
“It gives you time to relax in your everyday life [and] gives you time to take care of yourself,” Larivaara concluded.
Access to nature
As well as a more generous work-life balance, Finland has an abundance of nature and residents have access to respectfully make use of nearly every forest, lake and seaside area for free, thanks to a rule known as the 'Everyman's Right'.
Mirka Hintsanen, a professor of psychology at the University of Oulu in Finland says: “There are studies that nature actually reduces stress and that’s also connected to happiness — [when] you have less stress, it’s easier to be happy,”
Upskilling is highly encouraged
“We are really eager to develop ourselves,” says Larivaara, adding ”learning new things is good for your mental health.”
However, this doesn't have to mean time-consuming skills like learning a new language or developing at work - it can be simple skills like learning a new recipe or recreational activity that they enjoy.
Finland has a trusting society
The levels of trust between Finnish people is usually very high. Due to the country being rather small, residents build networks around them of trusting people. By building a society of people that get on well and look our for each other, this helps to eliminate loneliness.
A 2021 study by the National Library of Medicine concluded that “loneliness is considered one of the strongest negative predictors of life satisfaction”. Building meaningful relationships and surrounding yourself with people who give you a positive outlook on life can help improve life satisfaction.
Finnish people are content, rather than overwhelmingly happy
I suppose culturally in Finland, happiness doesn’t need to mean that very intense emotion of happiness,” Larivaara said.
“Our concept is more like [a] constant feeling of being content with your life” and what you have."
This 'quiet feeling', as Larivaara describes it, is the difference between looking for euphoria and simply being grateful and happy with the life you lead. It's the simple things that can make life content.
True happiness is subjective. What might make you burst with pride and grin from ear to ear could be of little interest to someone else. It's important to hold on to what makes you happy and cherish it. If it means something to you, then that's all that matters.
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