Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

7 Finnish habits to adopt in 2020 for a happier life

There are a few things that I used to take for granted back home in Finland, but I did not realize it until I took a good look at how my life is different here in the US compared to how it was back home. I thought I would share some of these habits with you that I’m either still practicing or that I’m looking to again do more of from now on.

#1 Speak when you have something to say

It is not customary for Finns to engage in a lot of small talk — we voice ourselves when we have an opinion or if something needs to be said. I think this is super important, because here in California there is a tendency to talk a lot — but to steer clear of anything that might be seen as judgement, upsetting or too personal. But it’s really important to say those things that really need to be said, if we want to forge strong relationships, break default patterns, and help each other out.

In general we Finns feel comfortable just observing people around us, listening, pondering. Which leads me to my next point:

#2 Embrace silences

It is perfectly normal that there are a few-minute long silences here and there during gatherings of Finns, at dinners, or during car rides. There is no need to fill this silence with small talk — just breathe, relax, and enjoy the white space.

#3 Go outside

We walk in the woods and pick berries in summer and mushrooms in fall, we stand barefoot on the grass in our backyard, we go fishing, swimming, skiing — because nature recharges us. Finnish researchers have shown that just 20 minutes spent outside per day can lower blood pressure in addition to other benefits.

#4 Walk when you can

We’ve noticed that it is very hard to be a pedestrian here in the Bay Area. Not only are distances quite long, but pedestrians aren’t taken into consideration well in traffic in general.

But — I still strive to walk whenever I can. The post office is about a mile away so I walk there to drop off photo books and print packages, and there’s a couple restaurants at walking distance by another apartment complex so we walk there instead of driving somewhere further. That way we get some movement as well as save on gas or Uber.

#5 Take your shoes off at home

All that stuff that gets stuck to your shoes while your outside should not be transported into your carpet. Especially after we got a dog, I got very aware of the things that get tracked around with shoes and paws.

#6 Stick to plans with other people religiously

When we say that we will meet up with someone or plan a trip together, we 170% expect it to happen. We are fully committed to anything that has been proposed as a plan. We only cancel on the “little things” like a coffee meetup if there is an emergency, we are sick, or our car broke down on the way.

It is so refreshing to be able to trust that when you make plans with someone, those plans willl happen — because it allows you to have something to look forward to.

#7 Gather around home-cooked meals

In Finland we ate out *maybe* 3–4 times per year. We went out for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries — but even then we often arranged for dinner at home with friends. Here in the Bay Area there is so much good food that we ended up eating out quite a lot or picking up food. But we are constantly learning to make some of those delicious dishes ourselves and we often cook for several days at a time so that we can save some time.

Cooking at home is far healthier and cheaper than going out to eat. Well — depending on what you’re cooking of course. But it is also about making something with your hands, spending time in your home and kitchen, and gathering around your dinner table without distractions.

I’m curious — have some of your habits changed as a result of a move to another country? Which habits have you held onto that no one around you seems to practice?

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Jenna Hellberg

Jenna Hellberg

Helping solo business owners be more productive and create work-life balance. Get my 4-step exercise to reduce your marketing tasks→ www.jennahellberg.com/guide

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