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be like finland

I was thinking about Finland this morning which is totally random because while I’ve been lucky enough to see much of this world, I’ve never actually been there.

So other than the fact that Finland joined NATO this week, I think it’s also because I just read an article in the New York Times called "The Finnish Secret to Happiness? Knowing When You Have Enough."

Finland has been ranked the “happiest country on Earth” for six consecutive years. If it wasn’t so cold, I might move there. This World Happiness Report is put out by (wait for it…) the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (another UN mouthful!).

Since I’m both a fan and an alum of the United Nations, I take it seriously.

But what a loaded word happiness is! I always considered happiness to be a fleeting feeling, while joy is more enduring.

The report measures happiness using six variables:

  1.  Income: side note for all those overworked, income doesn’t mean we need to keep making more money, it means we have to feel secure and stable.
  2.  Health: yes, we have to believe in our longevity to be happy.
  3.  Having someone to count on in times of trouble: this is reinforced by the longest study on happiness put out by Harvard which points out that our relationships mean everything.
  4.  Generosity: we are one person in a shared human experience. It means giving time, money, attention, or even simply love.
  5.  Freedom: this goes without saying. I’ve been to too many parts of the world with UNICEF to understand that freedom is essential. For our reality, freedom is also found in our expression, thinking, creativity, and relationships.
  6.  Trust: the report focuses on an absence of corruption in business and government, but think of what that word means to you.

So try that.

What if you applied these variables to your own life to test out your level of happiness?

Where would you rank?

Would you be Finland?

As you ponder the first one about money, I want to share a NYT reader’s comment who posted a story about two well-known authors to help bring the point home:

Kurt Vonnegut was with Joseph Heller at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island in NY. Vonnegut said, “Joe, how does it make you feel to know that our host only yesterday made more money than your novel ‘Catch-22’ has earned in its entire history?”

To which Joseph Heller replied, “I’ve got something he can never have.”

To which Kurt Vonnegut (and I) wondered, “What is that?”

To which Heller said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”

Here’s to feeling like you, too, have enough.

And to being like Finland…just hopefully in a warm July.

With fierce love,

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