Enchanting Nature – The Key to Finnish Happiness and Well-being

Imagine for a moment the fresh scent of the forest, the soft moss beneath your feet, and the joyful singing of birds in your ears. These are moments familiar to many Finns, bringing peace and joy to their hearts. Nature is a part of the Finnish identity, and its impact on our happiness and well-being is undeniable. Let’s explore why nature is such an essential part of Finnish life.

Finland is a country where nature is omnipresent. Forests, lakes, archipelagos, and mountains offer unique experiences and opportunities to enjoy the diversity of nature. Studies show that being in nature and experiencing its wonders have positive effects on mood, reduce stress, and increase well-being. The proximity to nature plays a significant role in Finnish happiness by providing us with the opportunity to get close to nature and enjoy its benefits.

The proximity to nature also provides opportunities for physical activity. Finns are known for being an active nation, and engaging in outdoor activities is one of the most popular ways to take care of oneself. Walking in the forest, berry picking, skiing, fishing, and hiking offer excellent opportunities for exercise and improving health while enjoying the beauty of nature. Physical activity, in turn, releases endorphins and other feel-good hormones, enhancing the feeling of happiness.

Nature also offers a chance to calm down and relax. The fast-paced lifestyle and constant information overload of today’s world can strain the mind and cause stress. Spending time in nature allows us to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and make room for silence and contemplation. The tranquility of the forest, the sound of water, and the birdsong can act as therapeutic elements that help us recharge and unwind.

In addition to the direct benefits of being in nature, the preservation and conservation of Finnish natural landscapes contribute to a sense of national pride and cultural heritage. The untouched wilderness, clean air, and pristine waters are treasures that Finns cherish and strive to protect for future generations.

In conclusion, nature plays a vital role in the happiness and well-being of Finns. Its presence in our lives provides opportunities for physical activity, relaxation, and a connection with our roots. Whether it’s a leisurely walk in the forest, a refreshing swim in a lake, or a mesmerizing sunset over the archipelago, nature has the power to uplift our spirits and enrich our lives. Let us cherish and protect the natural wonders that make Finland a truly special place.

What makes you happy? Answer our survey!

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.

We are attending the IPPA2021 Congress

This week is going to be so inspiring to us! Even though the summer is at its best here in Finland this week we are glued to our laptops and enjoying the amazing set up of the International Positive Psychology World Congress (IPPA2021).

We have already attended some of the pre-congress workshops where we have been able to get updated with the latest findings in the field of positive psychology and connect with others who share our enthusiasm. It feels absolutely fantastic!

In the coming days we will feel like kids in a candy store picking up the juiciest lectures and workshops from the program. We cannot wait to see and hear for example Life Stories and Human Flourishing: integrating narrative and positive psychology in therapy and coaching by Margarita Tarragona or This is your brain on wellbeing by Christian Waugh or The influence of dispositional gratitude and optimism on health and wellbeing in daily life by David Newman and so many more!

Our own study “Wellbeing of CEOs – both happy and stressed at the same time” will be presented in the Gallery Presentations as follows

  1. July 15, 21:00  (EDT)
  2. July 16, 10:15  (EDT)
  3. July 17, 8:30 (EDT)

The Congress Program can be viewed here: www.ippaworldcongress.org/program

If you are attending the congress, let’s connect!

What happened when two of the world’s happiest countries met in the UEFA2020 Euro game?

June 12., 2021  was a big day for us Finns. Our national football team had made it to their first ever European Championship game. Even the people who usually are not interested in football had now gathered to watch the game on TV. The spirit was high and the truest fans had traveled to Copenhagen to cheer our team in front of the home audience of the Danish team.

Finland has ranked first on the UN Happiness Report for the fourth time in a row. Denmark has also been among the top countries in that study. It was very interesting to watch the game having this in mind!

The game had lasted some 40 minutes when one of the Danish team’s top players, Christian Eriksen, collapsed on the field and soon the audience was to witness the paramedics trying to get him back to life.

The whole world seemed to stop and I bet at that moment millions of people were praying for Eriksen. The minutes seemed long and the paramedics worked hard to revive Eriksen. To protect Eriksen’s and paramedics’ privacy the Finnish fans handed a Finnish flag to cover the situation. At some point the paramedics carried Eriksen away from the football field.

We could see the team mates of Eriksen very shocked and touched by the situation. We could see how the captain of the Danish team comforted the spouse of the collapsed player. The TV cameras showed the audience crying and hugging each other at the moment of despair and insecurity.

While waiting for the news of Eriksen’s condition the fans of the Finnish team wanted to show their support for the Danes and started chanting the collapsed player’s first name “Christian” where the Danish fans answered by chanting his last name “Eriksen”. Even thinking about this now gives me chills and tears of compassion. The countries unified at the moment of adversity. They were sharing the same and only one goal – to get Eriksen back in life and well again.

Later it was announced that Eriksen was alive in the hospital and that was all that mattered. The game continued and Finland won 0-1. Even when the winning goal maker Joel Pohjanpalo was interviewed after the game all that seemed to matter to him was that Eriksen was alive. He did not want to celebrate the victory too much.

In the UN World Happiness Report one of the things measured in the study is community spirit. That is something that we got to experience and witness in that game. 

What else could we learn from the science of happiness point of view from the events of this game?

  • Relationships are the number one thing in happiness
  • When we feel loved and supported we thrive
  • Compassion is empowering
  • Witnessing somebody do good makes us happy
  • When we have difficulties they bond us together

We felt close and united because of what happened in the game. This will definitely bond us together as nations, too. After the game the Defense minister of Denmark sent her Finnish colleague a message where he thanked the team and the fans for their heartwarming and comforting support.  This is how the happiest countries in the world play happy football and I am sure we want to do live by these principles outside the football field, too.