Happiness is a Way of Life

The topic of happiness creates as many thoughts as there are people. What is happiness for you? My entry point to the subject is both personal and work related. I have always been a person who looks at things from the bright side – finding something positive even when something unexpected happens. According to research, people with a positive attitude are much happier than those that look for what is wrong, and I can totally relate to that.

Those who chase for happiness, usually miss the mark. Happiness is very often in the small, joyful moments. It is rather the way, not the destination. To feel happy we usually need three things:

  1. A meaningful vision of the future

It is valuable to have a clear vision of something to thrive for and to see our own role in pursuing the vision.

  1. A sense of purpose

We all have a wish for meaningful work in all we do. When our contributions make a difference, we feel good about ourselves.

  1. Great relationships

The value of relationships is key to our wellbeing. Our social network is directly affecting how we feel, and positive emotions relate to feeling happy.

The psychologist Ed Diener has a researched the theme of happiness and the conclusion is that the frequency of positive experiences is a much better predictor of happiness than the intensity of positive experiences. Somebody who has a dozen of mildly nice things happen each day are usually happier than somebody who has a single truly amazing thing happen. This also shows that the source of happiness is in the small, daily things. 

Dr. Lyubomirsky, head researcher from UC Riverside concluded, “When people feel happy, they tend to feel confident, optimistic and energetic and others find them likeable and sociable. Happy people are thus able to benefit from these perceptions.”

Here some hints that can help you create more happy moments in your daily life:

  • Accept things as they are
  • Enjoy what you already have
  • Be honest to yourself
  • Focus on being present and on what is important to you
  • See the bigger picture and enjoy the ride
  • Look at ‘failures’ as learning opportunities

Let’s go a bit deeper. What if you are told that you only have 12 months to live. Would you do the things you are doing now? What would you change? It is very likely that you would make different choices. Maybe you would fulfill a dream that you have postponed time after time. You would probably spend more time with your loved ones. How about doing those changes already now!

Some years ago, I realized that I want to feel even better every day, so what to do about it? I started listening to inspiring people and I created new, lasting habits. How we start and finish our days really matter. The morning sets the tone for the whole day. Now I own my mornings instead of feeling rushed from the moment I get up. What could be a good morning routine for you?

In the evening I transit into bedtime by stopping social media activities at least an hour before sleeping. I also think of what to be grateful of each evening. Those happy moments from the day put a smile on my face and as a bonus it deepens the sleep. Let’s remember that we can create happy moments if we choose so.

This is a text by our guest writer Carita Nyberg who has a role as an Advisor for the Finnish Happiness Research Association.

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Carita Nyberg is the Founder and Master Trainer of her company Keys2Balance and she has developed a unique, deep yet practical training method and has helped leaders unleash their full potential and thrive both on a personal and collaborative level. After two decades of transformative work in Finland, she is now building a global Keys2Balance Trainers’ network.

Learn more at:

https://www.keys2balance.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/caritanyberg/
https://speak-up-discovery.teachable.com/p/the-authentic-leader-s-journey

Author of 7 e-books: https://bookboon.com/fi/author/0908031c-ce02-9b86-11e6-6dd9eff399d1

What Could Be Learned from Finnish Happiness?

For many of us the past years have been a challenge. Whether you have worked from home or have had a workplace to go to, things have not been as they used to be. Far from it! In one of the Gallup webinars the presenter said something interesting about the pandemic. “It is as if we have been in the same storm, but in different boats – each coping differently with the situation at hand.”

Many feel exhausted and there is a real danger that the next pandemic concerns mental health. That is why NOW is a good time to invest in happiness – both as individuals, families and as societies at large. One wonderful example comes from Buthan. Did you know that Bhutan measures currently gross national happiness? It is measured as:

  1. Psychological Wellbeing
  2. Material Wellbeing/Standard of Living
  3. Good Governance
  4. Health
  5. Education
  6. Community Vitality
  7. Cultural Diversity and Resilience
  8. Balanced Time Use
  9. Ecological Diversity

Investing in happiness has paid off for them! Bhutan must be the unlikeliest pandemic success story, yet they offer a really inspiring example of making happiness a goal and combining happiness and health in an innovative way. Resilience and compassion played a huge role in the relief efforts the country made during the pandemic.

As you may know Finland was chosen as the happiest country in the world for a fourth time in a row again this year. But our relationship to happiness is quite complex. For example the most famous finnish prowerb on happiness says: “Kell onni on, se onnen kätkeköön.” Which means “May the one who has happiness hide it.” There are many other sayings like that in finnish where low key, modest enjoyment is emhasized. Just like elsewhere, in Finland too happiness is connected to familyhealthfriends and love but in recent studies nature seems to be of particular importance for Finns. Experiencing nature in different ways, being in nature and bringing nature in in form of plants, flowers and yes, pets. Nature is a source of finding peace and meaning. It is enjoyed with friends and family but also in solitude – experiencing silence and stillness on purpose. It is a place to find yourself, meditate, exercise and whenever the weather permits our forests are available freely for berry and mushroom picking as well. It is no wonder that in one study finnish respondents described forests as their private sanctuary.

Right now happiness and pursuing it is possibly more important, than ever as each of us start to feel a bit worn out with the dragging pandemic. Happiness has many benefits to health and wellness and Finns are experts on finding happiness in the nature. It has been noted that Finns have easy access to nature, there are trails everywhere and even in bigger cities it is possible to find a forest or lake nearby. Nature offers many opportunities to fun, joy, peacefulness and relaxation. According to latest research even 15 minutes outside in the nature can have a positive effect on your happiness. It really is worth a try! Exploring nature is also mostly free or pretty low cost activity, so some form of nature is available to us all. Here are some ideas on what to explore:

  • Take a brisk walk outside! Remember, even 15 minutes a day can make a difference. If at all possible, take advantage of the little daylight we have right now as a bonus and walk at lunchtime. How about making a little lunch walk in a close by park a daily habit? During the darkest months before the lasting snow falls, walking in darkness can be fun too. Wear reflective gear, remember to dress in layers and choose appropriate footwear.
  • Plan a picnic outdoors or visit a National Park. There are a plenty of options really. Nothing says relaxation as loud as roasting sausages by the camp fire. If you want to invest, tryl local guides – they have many wonderful stories to tell and you can order a ready made picnic menu so you can concentrate on enjoying the trip.
  • Try Nordic walking! I remember when the Nordic walking poles became popular people joked that the walkers had forgot their skis. Nordic walking is surprisingly effective and great fun with a walking buddy.
  • Go to work or where ever you need to go using a bicycle instead of a car. Yes, its true. Now you can ride your bicycle year around. There are fatbikes and special winter tires for bicycles as well. This is a true move towards hard core nature enjoyment.

P.S. Don´t let the weather scare you. As you can see from the examples above it is a matter of having proper clothing options for each weather type and you are all ready to enjoy the nature at its best.

THE FINNISH HAPPINESS EQUATION

We are interested in what makes Finns happy and Finland the happiest place to live in the world. It is intriquing that Finland has been chosen as the happiest country in the world for a fourth time in a row. What makes Finland so special? How is the Finnish happiness created on the individual and societal level?

It seems that we are clearly doing something right over here. As the authors of the World Happiness Report point out most of the differences in happiness outcomes were connected to differences in life expectancy, social support, gross domestic product per capita, generosity, freedom to make life choices and for example to subjective perception of corruption levels. Questions such as: “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”or “Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?” were used to evaluate the subjective experience of individuals.

Although Finland has ranked high in happiness we are far from perfect. Just like in other countries in our continent, unemployment is high compared to other countries in European Union and we rank high in both depression and suicide rates. On the other hand our public school system is among the best in the world, public health care system is available to all and we have a relatively low rate of powerty compared to others. One thing that has been highlighted in the studies is trust. We trust each other and the society at large.