Be Happy Like A Finn!

Be Happy Like A Finn!

Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

Are you happy? The World Happiness Report just came out and the wonderful folks of Finland are (once again) ranked as the happiest people on Earth. Sadly, we Americans come in at a dismal 23rd in the survey of over 100 countries. Finland boasts a population of 5.5 million, which suggests that smaller is happier.

So, what gives over there in the great Nordic countries? Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden top the list for “happy residents.” Could it be that cold weather induces one to find great joy? Evidently, there is more to it. Researchers claim that the Finns have a love of nature, trust in their government (and each other) and have little worries about healthcare, childcare, personal safety, or money.

Yes, it appears that the life of hiking, skiing, sipping coffee, working realistic hours, having good schools, free healthcare and retiring with dignity, might make folks giddy. However, the Finns are taxed at about a 42 percent rate, so it is not as though all services are “free.”

Perhaps we need to develop a little “sisu,” which is a common word to describe Finnish character. It roughly translated means “grim determination in the face of hardships.” In other words, do not complain about long, dark winters and frigid weather. Just “carry-on.” Life is good with hot cocoa and down comforters. When you cannot change the weather, alter your expectations!

Americans have fallen off the “top twenty” list of happiest people for various reasons. It seems that our youth (Gen Z) are concerned about attaining the American dream of home ownership and financial security. American boomers rank high on the “happiness survey.” One cheeky journalist suggests that boomers are having a blast playing pickleball and golf and are not bothered by much else. Geez, old age gives us plenty to be bothered about!

My veterinarian says that our pets are happy because they live in the “here and now.” They hold no grudges, have no worries, live in and for the moment. They find joy in the little things in life. Give the cat a cardboard box and let the fun begin. Walk a doggy and watch them sniff, prance, and bounce with excitement.

Happiness is defined as a sense of well-being and contentment. It does not keep away life’s challenges but gives us a foundation to be resilient and optimistic. My seven-year-old granddaughter, Bella, wakes up, jumps out of bed, does a cartwheel and shouts, “This will be my best day ever.” I have tried this (without the cartwheel) and I think it might be a formula for feeling happy.

There is a Finnish word, “kalsarikannit,” which means drinking alcohol at home, alone in your underpants. (Finns claim that this activity has no bearing on their happiness ranking). Dear Readers, please do not try this, as it might lead to serious problems. Yikes, perhaps more research is needed on what makes people happy.

We might turn off the news, put down our devices, take a dog for a walk, and start each morning with a cartwheel and proclamation of how great the day will be. No kalsarikannit required.

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