Create More Happiness for Yourself - Channel Your Inner Finn

January 15, 2023

Create More Happiness - Channel Your Inner Finn

Ok, ok, not everyone in Wisconsin came from Germany...there have been boatloads of Swedes, Italians, Ukrainians, Poles, Norwegians, and Finns too. But when we hear that Finland just landed "the happiest country in the world" for the fifth year in a row, you might be tempted to ask just what it is that they do. Is our "Finnish" heritage part of why Wisconsin is considered such a welcoming place? Add to their internal happiness, their immigrants end up being the happiest of any immigrants. Something is working right in Finland.

In pursuit of that answer, ask Finland's premier happiness researcher, Frank Martela, just what it is that Finns do to make their country and themselves happy. Here is the list recently published on CNBC.

1. “Kell’ onni on, se onnen kätkeköön.” In English, it means: Don’t compare or brag about your happiness. What that translates into in everyday life in Finland is less showy displays of possessions. You can't tell a millionaire by their clothes or their car. They might be on the bus with you. They certainly won't brag about the neighborhood they live in. Finland has enough lakes and shorelines for just about everyone to live close to water and next to nature. So, you don't have to boast about your place "up north". Finland, after all, is up north.

What that really means is to set your own standards of happiness that you can achieve and be content with who you are. Don't compare yourself to others. You are good enough. And can you help your friends feel the same way? Encourage them to be enough just as they are. Make it infectious.

2. Get close to nature and savor it. Surveys show that 87% of Finns think nature is particularly important. Getting outdoors and taking the 4 weeks of summer holiday that most Finns get away from cities is highly prized. But a walk will do in the park, even in January. Grow a plant indoors. If you can't grow anything, get a bird feeder.  Just notice and enjoy the natural world we live in.

3. Do what you can to increase public trust. Research shows the higher the level of public trust in a society, the happier everyone is. Practice absolute honesty in everything you do. Consider courtesy as your operating system. Drive with kindness and tolerance in your heart. Don't judge the people around you with your first impressions. Practice trusting their goodwill. Let the other guy into your lane. Let the other person go through the door first. Wait your turn in line with patience. Notice how it makes you feel part of the larger whole.

Do you know what happens when you lose a wallet in Finland? You get it back over 90% of the time, with the money in it (11 of 12). (Best of 16 cities studied). Mumbai, India came in at 9/12. New York was only 8/12. Presume goodwill when you speak to the beleaguered customer service person on the phone. Go ahead, be kind, and see if you don't get what you wanted more often. And mostly what you want is a sense of trust and relationship with everyone you meet. Public trust. Nurture it. It's good for all of us.

www.What will Work for me. I've had a lost computer returned to me at Chicago's train station. I remember that as acutely as the time I was mugged in college (The mugger returned my wallet, empty but for my student ID). You know what happened me when I found myself late at night on the train station in St Louis, with only two large, obvious maintenance men there with me, and I didn't have the change to get the train ticket? One of the men gave me a dollar in change. How I wish I had his name. Opportunities to create public trust come up all the time. Be prepared in your heart to give a minute, give a dollar, speak up in kindness, show will be happier.

References: Finland's Characteristics, Wisconsin Historical Society, World Happiness Report, NBER, Reader's Digest, CNBC,

Pop Quiz

1. The happiest countries in the world have the lowest taxes? T or F. Answer: Not asked and not studied, but it could be noted that the highest-taxed countries in Europe are all in the top happiest places to live.

2. Can you think of three ways you can participate in increasing public trust?

3. Can you think of ways that you can feel ok about the choices you make to spend time with your family or friends?

4. What can you do to enjoy nature as we roll through the coldest and darkest days of the year?

5. Will you really be happier in an expensive car?