2 Top Tips From Finland’s New ‘Masterclass of Happiness,’ Straight From the Happiest Country on the Planet

Photo: Getty Images/Oleh Slobodeniuk
The 2023 World Happiness Report named Finland the world's happiest country for the sixth year in a row, and to celebrate, the country is hosting 14 people to be a part of its first-ever four-day "Masterclass of Happiness." The program, set to take place this month, covers the country's top pillars of happiness, including nature, lifestyle, health, food, and well-being.

It's likely that you're not one of those 14 lucky winners, but that's no reason to believe you, too, can't reap the happy-living effects of the Finnish way of life. According to coaches leading the Finland Masterclass of Happiness, a number of the Finnish secrets covered in the class are replicable to anyone, anywhere.

"The happiness and well-being course focuses on a simple and natural way of learning to appreciate everyday things. Happiness is a by-product of contentment." —Alex Nurmi, Masterclass of Happiness coach

Below, two of the coaches—Petri Kokkonen, a wilderness guide and nature and lifestyle coach and Alex Nurmi, a TV chef and cookbook author—given their top tip from the Finland Masterclass of Happiness class. And if you're curious to learn more, the online version of the masterclass will be available this fall.

1. Make eating a full-on, joyful experience

"The happiness and well-being course focuses on a simple and natural way of learning to appreciate everyday things," Nurmi says. "Happiness is a by-product of contentment. That is, if you know how to appreciate the simple things in your life—to be satisfied with what you have—you are more likely to be happier as well."

With that in mind, Nurmi says an easy way to apply this happiness concept to our lives is by expressing gratitude for our food: "Learn to appreciate having food and nourishment every day. It is not a given for everyone in this world."

In addition to food connecting to a gratitude practice, Nurmi also suggests slowing down when you eat and savoring your food, as finding peace by way of eschewing haste can also help cultivate happiness. When you do this, "a happy moment can be a wonderful dinner at a top restaurant or, conversely, it can be a blueberry picked from a bush," he says.

Slowing down while eating can help you attune yourself to details of the food, which might include, for instance, different flavor and texture combinations. Awareness of the wonder of nourishment can cultivate appreciation and happiness. This is especially true if you're enjoying a food that is one of your favorites, which Nurmi says can be a great source of happiness in its own right.

Nurmi also recommends playing soothing and happy music during meals to establish a good vibe. "Music can increase happiness and well-being," he says.  "[Listening to] a favorite song or rhythm with food is an experience worth trying." He also suggests eating outside in nature to enjoy "a calming effect on your mind."

2. Immerse yourself in nature in ways that feel good

Given how downright beautiful the nature is in Finland (Fun fact: More than 75 percent of the Nordic country is covered in forest), it's not surprising that Mother Earth plays a big role in the Masterclass of Happiness. "Most Finns are used to appreciating nature," says Kokkonen, who was born in Lapland, the northernmost region of Finland, which is surrounded by forest. He adds that Finnish people are often accustomed to spending time with nature, whether by picking berries or mushrooms or going fishing.

Kokkonen says one of the lessons taught in the class is how to view nature and appreciate the silence, fresh air, and space. "We try to teach guests how to experience nature differently, how to be open-minded, to discover new things about nature ,and what [nature] can offer for them," he says.

Experience nature differently requires spending more time in it, appreciating its glory. That said, this happiness practice goes beyond just spending time outdoors: Kokkonen says the key to this Finnish happiness strategy is immersing yourself in nature in ways that you enjoy. "Nature is a wonderful place to start," Kokkonen says of strengthening your happiness skills. "It gives something to everyone—you just have to find it in your own way. We're all different, and we need to know how to listen to ourselves and find what feels good for us."

For example, Kokkonen says, depending on where you live, that may look like spending a day by a forest or lake without your phone and disconnecting from the busyness of life. Or, finding an activity you enjoy that takes you to nature, such as walking your dog or taking photographs of the scenery.

Kokkonen's preferred nature activity is fishing: "I started fishing when I was very young, and as I got older, I started to try new fishing spots in different areas," he says. "As an adult, I find fishing and exploring new areas as part of my happiness." Whatever your preferred nature-focused activity, prioritize getting outside as often as possible, and you'll be on the right track to achieving Finnish-level happiness.

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