Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for three years running according to the World Happiness Report.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting a Finn, you know that the stereotype holds true; they are almost always happy.
Although it might seem like a strange time to measure world happiness, the folks behind the World Happiness Report note that during challenging times, happiness actually tends to increase.
“As revealed by earlier studies of earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis, and even economic crises, a high trust society quite naturally looks for and finds co-operative ways to work together to repair the damage and rebuild better lives. This has led sometimes to surprising increases in happiness in the wake of what might otherwise seem to be unmitigated disasters,” they explain.
So is there something magical in the Finnish air? Is it their genetics? What makes a Finn so gosh darn happy to be alive?
The answer may lie in their habits.
Finns Spend A Lot Of Time Outdoors
About 70% of the entire country is covered by forests. “Nature is our secret,” says Finland Native Heli Jimenez. “We Finns like to put on a pair of rubber boots, head to the woods to slow down, and calm our mind.”
Studies show that even just 5 minutes in nature drastically boosts your mood. When you turn that into an everyday habit, you are setting yourself up for some big happiness gains.
Finns Love Submerging Themselves In Cold Water
“The secret of plunging into icy water lies in the feeling that surges through your body once you get out of the water,” says Jimenez.
“As soon as you’re back on dry land your circulation kicks in and your body starts to warm up and makes you feel happy. Your body is producing the mood-balancing hormone serotonin with dopamine, and stress starts to melt away,” she adds
Studies also support this habit of happiness; cold water lowers the stress hormone cortisol and soothes our sympathetic nervous system (which controls our “fight or flight” response).
Finns Read A Ton Of Books
“We are 5.5 million people, and we borrow close to 68 million books a year,” says Jimenez.
According to a 2016 study, Finland was ranked the most literate country in the world.
Science shows that reading improves happiness and overall life satisfaction.
It would appear that the secrets of Finnish happiness aren’t really very secret after all.
If you want to learn more about the Finnish way of life, there is a free virtual experience called Rent a Finn where a “happiness guide” will give you their advice and insights on how to live a happy life.