Coronavirus Advice: The Happiest People In The World Share 5 Ways To Be Happy
Article Published by: forbes.com
With the current coronavirus pandemic, this might not be the happiest time on the planet. But that’s no reason to forget what makes us happy—especially on March 20, which is the United Nations’ annual International Day of Happiness. This day has been marked since 2013 as a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. Today, the UN issued its annual World Happiness Report, which ranks 156 countries around the world. For the third year in a row, Finland was named the happiest country in the world.
So what makes the Finns so happy—and what can we learn from them during this time of global turmoil caused by an outbreak of coronavirus? We tapped into Heli Jimenez, senior director of international marketing at Business Finland, to get her insider take on what makes Finland home to the happiest people on earth, as well as tips on what Finns do to stay happy and calm. These are lessons that anyone around the world can integrate into their own lives during normal times or if you’re staying at home and sheltering in place due to coronavirus.
1. Experience the relaxation of the forest on your sofa.
The first thing to know is that 70% of Finland is covered by forest and the air is clean and serene. “Nature is our secret,” says Jimenez. “We Finns like to put on a pair of rubber boots, head to the woods to slow down and calm our mind.”
Jimenez says that there is something magical about the forest. “The Finnish soul has always been linked with it,” says Jimenez. “The green color is calming; the gentle rustling of the leaves and pine needles is like music.”
According to scientific research, just 15 minutes in the forest calms the pulse and your body starts to rest. But even if you can’t get out of the house, you can replicate the experience at home and listen to the relaxing sounds of Finnish Lapland on the Scapes album on Spotify. “Close your eyes, stretch yourself on the sofa and have an imaginary sound trip to the Finnish forest,” says Jimenez.
2. Start your day with a cold shower.
According to Jimenez, Finns love swimming in the winter in a lake or the sea, as much as they love the sauna. “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.”
The easiest way to do this at home is with a quick, ice-cold shower. And don’t worry: Even a couple of minutes will make a big difference. “If you do it in the morning, you couldn’t ask for a more refreshing way to start your day,” says Jimenez.
3. Make sense of the world by reading a book.
In 2016 the United Nations named Finland the world’s most literate nation, and Finns love books—as well as public libraries. In fact, Helsinki’s new Oodi library was awarded the best public library in the world in 2019. “We are 5.5 million people, and we borrow close to 68 million books a year,” says Jimenez. But if you can’t get to a library, no matter. Reading a book at home or online will have the same impact on your mental health and happiness. “Above all, reading (any) book is surely more relaxing than surfing social media,” says Jimenez.
Want to really get into the Finnish spirit? Check out the Moomins, which are white, hippo-like characters created by the writer and artist Tove Jansson in the 1940s. “Today the Moomins are part of the Finnish identity, inspiring generations over and over from children to adults,” says Jimenez.
4. Bake a cinnamon bun.
Finns are obsessed with a local cinnamon bun treat called korvapuusti, which means “slapped ears” in English. The difference in Finland: They are made a dash of cardamom. “For us, it’s the highlight of the day, and we definitely don’t count the calories,” says Jimenez. “Cinnamon buns are the perfect comfort food as well, and baked at home they bring a cozy smell to the kitchen as in our childhood days, when we ate them with a glass of milk.”
Grown-up Finns love korvapuusti paired with coffee, and in fact, it is such a national treasure that there is a special word for it: pullakahvit, which literally means “bun coffee.” This is often enjoyed at a cafe, but at the moment, “Finns are doing with virtual pullakahvi pauses,” says Jimenez.
Want to make Finish korvapuusti at home? You can find a recipe here.
5. Enjoy art online.
Another hallmark of Finland is its rich art scene, which ranges from experimental artist-run initiatives to commercial galleries to flagship art institutions. The country is home to more than 55 art museums, and much of the art in the country is inspired by the Finns’ close relationship with nature. The Finns also use art to “calm the mind and transport their thoughts to stress-free, comforting places.” says Jimenez.
Her advice: “Why not take a virtual trip from your own sofa to the Finnish museums to understand how art is a tool for happiness.”
One place to check out is the new Amos Rex museum, which won the prestigious LCD (Leading Culture Destination) Award for New Cultural Destination of the Year – Europe. You can take a virtual tour of the museum’s new Generation 2020 exhibition in its Instagram Stories.
For something more classic, there’s the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki, which includes more than 450 works by the famous Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela. Take a virtual tour of the Ateneum, and you’ll be feeling the calm Finnish vibes in no time flat.
About Jaime Bonetti Zeller
Jaime Bonetti Zeller is an investment professional and entrepreneur with businesses in multiple industries. He is president of Servicios Consulares Eurodom, the local partner in the Caribbean region for VFS Global, a leader global outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments worldwide. Jaime Bonetti Zeller also started the company Sofratesa de Panama inc., an organization in the engineering services industry located in Panama City.