Being happy can be a matter of perspective. It’s not always an easy choice to make, but we all need to take the hard road sometimes to reach happiness.
Happiness does not always equate to worldly success. Sometimes, there is so much pressure to succeed that it becomes detrimental to physical and mental well-being. The advent of social media exacerbates this kind of thinking. Scrolling through your feed and seeing other people smiling, fit and flawless while they flex their possessions makes you feel inadequate as you hunker down on your workload for the day.
It may push you to work harder, but with the wrong goals in mind. Thinking that you will be happier once you can buy the latest gadget, post an expensive dish on your social media account, or even get many followers because you live an ‘amazing life.’ The happiness boost from these can only be temporary. Manufacturers quickly upgrade to new models. You must pay off the expense of that luxury meal. Or, you feel pressure to keep posting to retain your following. It just ends up as too much work, and you might get frustrated in the end.
To get a better appreciation of what happiness is, let’s take a closer look at Finland. The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions named it the happiest country in the world for the fourth straight year. This means that they are satisfied with their way of life even if they experience 200 days of winter, where temperatures can drop to 20 degrees below zero. Why is everyone there living with such a sunny disposition?
Here are several life hacks on how they create happiness out of their daily lives, and it does not necessarily have anything to do with spending large amounts of money.
1. Develop a new worldview.
Katja Pantzar, a Helsinki-based journalist and author of The Finnish Way, uses the word "sisu," which she interprets as persevering when the odds are against you and viewing challenges as opportunities. An old Finnish saying encapsulates this: ‘Happiness does not come from searching for it, but by living.’
2. Get close to nature.
The Finns believe in ‘forest therapy’ where they spend time appreciating nature and absorbing its ‘healing powers.' While we are on community quarantines, by the way, a good alternative might be getting into urban farming. Being in touch with your roots and being rewarded by fresh foliage may produce the same happiness effect.
3. Find your tribe.
The Finns like to have communal activities, such as going to the sauna together or holding market days in their neighborhoods. It may not be practicable today because of the social-distancing protocols, but it helps to have a community of supportive friends who can boost your confidence and share positive vibes.
4. Don’t rely on material things for happiness.
The Finns practice conscious consumerism and minimalism. When buying items, Pantzar says, instead of flashy gadgets, they choose well-made, sustainable, functional items that will stand the test of time. It is good for the budget and eco-friendly too. It is also important to ‘buy time.’ Find ways to be more productive on less energy spent, such as harnessing the power of apps and services that make life easier (and these days, safer), from grocery deliveries to work-from-home tools and aids.
5. Invest in yourself and on others.
They spend on experiences and not material things. Finnish expert and well-being researcher Dr. Frank Martela says that Finns are generally do not brag about success and wealth. They view life as a series of experiences to be enjoyed, through travel, through continued learning, and having a sense of security through the safety nets in their society and in the ones they have built for themselves. Sharing your blessings, especially in these challenging times, also gives the feeling of warm fuzzies.
Does money buy happiness? Perhaps the best thing you can do with money is to use it wisely. It’s about investing in things that matter, and ultimately using them to have peace of mind.
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