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Would you Move to Finland to be HAPPY?

What is happiness worth to you?  What would you do to assure it?

I always like to read the list of the happiest places in the world.  It always amazes me that Finland comes up at the top of the list as the happiest country on earth—and it was at the top of the list again this year.

So why not move to Finland?

Who hasn’t thought of just pulling up stakes and moving away to a place where you could get a fresh start?

So I asked Carol.  Why don’t we move to Finland?  It seems like a no brainer—it’s the happiest place in the world.

It turns out that Carol had a few questions that seemed to express a negative point of view.  Finns love Finland—great healthcare, free university, a huge safety net for people, few homeless, and low unemployment.

There are a few disadvantages of moving to Finland from our point of view:
-It’s a bit cold—minus 35 degrees in the winter.
-Total taxable income can roar up close to 90%–and the cost of living is high. 
-It can be dark for up to 50 days a year in Finland
-Open expressions of friendliness are not part of the culture.  If you don’t know someone, you don’t speak to them; no friendly “Howdy’s!”   
If you know them, you say “Hello” and then just move along.
If you ask a Finn, “How are you?” they’ll be confused or give you a literal account of how they are doing which can take a while.

Finland makes Finns happy, but moving there would be less than appealing to Carol or me.

What about you?

What makes people happy is hugely variable and very perplexing.  Top of the list of foods that make people happiest are halibut and black beans.  That wouldn’t be for me. One of the professions said to be happiest is high school principal.  They are true heroes, but I would do anything else.  People are made happy by their hobbies, and I have none.  They make me feel at loose ends.

What Makes You Happy—Make a List and Do it

What is most important is for you personally to make a list of the things that make you happy and fit them into your schedule.  Find out what make people around you happy, and although those things may not be on your happiness list, facilitate those close to you being able to do the things that make them happy.

Happiness Comes in Spurts—Well-Being is Ongoing

I have come to the conclusion that well-being more important than happiness.   It is the feeling when I wake up in the morning that everything is going to be alright, no matter what the day is about to bring.  The people and my environment embrace me.  I can take a deep breath, smile, and greet the morning.

Happiness comes to people in strange packages.  Some people are happy climbing a vertical cliff looking down at a 500 feet fall.  I know entrepreneurs who are miserable if they are not driven by stress.    I know professionals who are options traders who ride out huge surges and sudden plunges in the market. 

Happiness is illusive and highly personal, but well-being is an element of our lives that is critical to our mental, spiritual, and physical well-being.   We spend a great deal of time working on what makes us happy, but building our sense of well-being is critical to everything in our lives.

Here are a few thoughts on creating well-being:

  1. Create daylight compartments.  Philosopher William James gave us the concept of creating daylight compartments.  Like a ship taking on water has compartments where air can be sealed and the ship saved, we need to preserve a mental place where the looming crises before us cannot be reached.  In the darkest storm we must maintain those places within us that cannot be overwhelmed. 

  2. Don’t take anything for granted. Having lived through the Texas snow storms where the grid failed us and we were without heat and light for several days in the coldest weather in a century, we once again got a lesson about taking nothing for granted.  Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.  Be thankful for all who protect us.

  3. Contribute to the world around you.  Well-being is tied to our service.  When we contribute professionally or personally we are not only contributing to the well-being of others, but also our own.

  4. Conserve and enjoy.  Happiness is a lot about what we do—developing a sense of well-being is a lot about what we don’t do—conserve and enjoy.  Thank God for what you have and don’t worry about what you’ll acquire next.  Have fun and enjoy in this moment!

So it looks like Finland is not on our itinerary as a place to live, but we’re glad the Finns are happy there.  Happiness is important, but well-being is something we can experience every day.

Austin, Texas

Santa Fe, New Mexico

(512) 498-9780

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