Wellness Wednesday: The Road to Happiness

Happy January. 

You may already know that I am passionate about learning, especially learning things related to wellness, well-being and overall physical, emotional and social health. For graduate school, I went to Springfield College (Massachusetts) which is a small private college with a “Humanics” philosophy. Humanics is the age-old Greek ideal of the balanced individual. The Humanics philosophy calls for the education of the whole person—in spirit, mind, and body—for leadership in service to others. We believe, as did the ancient Greeks, that a person’s emotional, intellectual, and physical lives are interconnected. 

In my current reading and learning, I discovered that Finland has been ranked one of the happiest countries in the world (full 2022 report here). A psychologist in Finland, Frank Martela, created a list of what not to do in order to maintain happiness.  

According to Martela, here are the three things Finlanders don’t do: 

  1.  We don’t compare ourselves to our neighbors.
  2.  We don’t overlook the benefits of nature. 
  3.  We don’t break the community circle of trust.  

The first statement stands out to me because it seems like a learned construct. Little kids don’t think they are “less than” others. They don’t even notice others.  Remember this quote by Theodore Roosevelt?  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  There is also a from the poem “Desiderata,” by Max Ehrmann, that fits this concept: “If you compare yourself with others you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”  

The second statement can be summed up in the REI advertisement, “Get Outside”! (EMS – Eastern Mountain Sports – advertisement “Get In Tents”!) There is a body of evidence how the natural environment helps humans destress and get grounded (pun not intended). Here are eight health benefits of being outside https://www.healthline.com/health/health-benefits-of-being-outdoors

The third statement talks about taking care of each other, looking out for each other, lifting each other up. We often see the headlines of this happening as heroic efforts in times of crisis — natural disasters, sickness, injury.  AND, it happens daily in many ways; when we smile at another human being, hold a door open, offer praise or acknowledge to someone who may feel invisible.  

Quick review:  You be you.  Go outside.  Step up and speak up, especially in your community.

Have a great winter term!

Learn more about how Finland finds its happy place here:


Image by storyset on Freepik

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