Kell onni on

by Ron Potter

Kell onni on, se onnen Katkekoon.  I’m sure many of you know this already but this is an old Finnish saying that roughly means, “Don’t compare or brag about your happiness.”

I’ve lived through a few nasty winters in Michigan where I’ve lived most of my life.  But Helsinki, Findland’s capital, resides farther north than any other capital except Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.  Finland is also the most sparsely populated country in the EU.  So if you’re not happy, what else do you have?

Happiest Country in the World

The basis for this blog are some notes from Frank Martela, a philosopher, psychology researcher, and lecturer at Aalto University in Finland.  He lists three things the Finns seem to avoid.

1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

I’ve been talking about happiness lately during poor health, loss, and life in general.  Here are three things that Dr. Martella talks about.

The first is the Finnish quote I gave you above.  Don’t compare or brag.  If you compare yourself to others and start thinking that you’re better than some (or the best in one way or another), something or someone will come across pretty quickly to knock you off that perch.

Also, if you’re bragging, you’ll create some enemies pretty quickly.  Someone will be gunning for you to knock you down a few notches.

Success to the Finns means looking like everyone else.

2. Don’t Overlook the Benefits of Nature

I grew up in the country.  Our nearest neighbor was a mile away.  Our property had a stream, fish, crawdads, and many trees.  I didn’t know it at the time (I was just a kid growing up) but research later showed how much being in nature is good for us.  If you’re feeling down, take a walk in the woods.

Sometimes there is not a woods available but further research discovered just how much one tree helped.  There was a study of kids who grew up in the “projects” on the south side of Chicago.  They found a small set of kids who seemed to be much happier than the others.  At first, there seemed to be no explanation but someone finally noticed that the group of happier kids had a tree outside their window.  If you only have one tree, sit down at its base and focus on the sounds and feel of nature.

I currently live in a neighborhood called “Thousand Oaks.”  It is well-named and I find myself looking out the window at the trees for long periods of time.  Because of the trees and our bird feeders, we tend to have many types of birds that hang around Michigan in winter.  I find myself getting lost watching them and lose all track of time.

3. Don’t Break Trust

This was an interesting one to me for several reasons.  One is that I see generally two types of people in the world.  One type starts out skeptical of everyone and won’t grant trust until they believe the other person has earned it.  The second type (I seem to fall into this category) is a very trusting person right from the start and only considers another person untrustworthy after they have violated the granted trust.

I see issues with both approaches.

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