10+ Rules People in the Happiest Countries Use That We Should Try Right Away

4 years ago

It’s been several years since the countries of Northern Europe started to take the top places in the ratings of the happiest countries. Scandinavians definitely know something about contentment and prosperity. We decided to find out what makes the descendants of Vikings so special.

Today the Bright Side editorial has been thinking about rocky fjords the whole day, so we want to discuss the good habits of Scandinavians with you that obviously give them some advantages.

1. They plan life in advance.

A resident of Scandinavia is likely to have appointments planned as much as one year ahead in their agenda: a visit to the vet next month, a visit to the dentist in 6 months, a vacation in August, and a party on Saturday. Studies confirm that planning your time can improve your quality of life and relieve stress.

  • In order to manage the time for all your necessities correctly, it’s better to start from the end. If the final point in your adventure is returning home, you should wind the time backward from this moment until the start of your preparations, jotting down all the steps along the way.
  • Split big tasks into small ones — this way it will be easier to solve them.

2. They have an active lifestyle.

The excellent infrastructure of the Nordic countries leaves no chance for lazybones — everyone leads an active lifestyle. Hiking and walking are integral parts of everyone’s life, from kids to retired people. Perhaps that is the reason why Scandinavians are in such good health. In Norway, for example, 77% of the population say that they feel they are in perfect health.

The Finns borrowed a walking method using sticks from their skiers, which they even use to keep fit in the summer season, a long time ago. Today, it’s called “Nordic walking.”

  • It’s not that difficult to become more active. When answering a call, get up and start walking while talking. The standing position, as well as walking, helps you to focus better.
  • Don’t rush to take a comfortable seat inside public transportation, you’d be better off opting for standing. It was in 1950 when scientists researched the health of bus drivers who constantly sit and check-takers who spent the whole day on their feet. The risk of developing heart disease was 2 times higher in the drivers than in the check-takers.

3. They buy local products.

Scandinavians choose goods that are more expensive, but manufactured locally because they trust their quality. In Finland, for example, you can see a special sign — a key with a flag on a product, which means it has been produced in Suomi and meets all the necessary standards.

This does not just apply to food products, but to clothes, furniture, and techniques as well. Finns like the clothes and textiles of the local brand called Marimekko and while in Sweden you will find IKEA products in almost every house. Scandinavians’ love for local designers and products has a good effect on their ecology and health.

  • If you buy products at markets, it’s better to come by when they open on Saturdays. That will give you a chance to buy products from the farmers themselves.
  • The clothes created by local designers can help diversify your wardrobe. Today, there are brands for any budget and there are special marketplaces that can help you in your search.

4. They fully switch off from “work-mode” at the end of the workday.

If a company works from 8 AM until 4:45 PM and lunch lasts for 45 minutes, a Scandinavian will spend exactly this much time at work. Only 2.9% of Norwegians work overtime, they spend the rest of the time (about 16 hours) hanging out with family, doing hobbies, and resting.

  • Perform complex and important tasks in the morning to gradually ease your workload throughout the day.
  • Try spending lunchtime on pleasant things, like listening to music or sketching. It will help you to reboot.

5. They wear light reflectors on their clothes.

There is a law in Finland that says that each kid has to have at least 3 light reflectors on their outerwear. Thanks to this rule, accidents were reduced by 76% — that’s why they say that flicker (light reflector) is the cheapest insurance in the world.

  • Change the flicker once every 1-2 years, or more if it gets scratched or grows dim.
  • A reflector must be fixed 1.6-2.6 feet from the ground, at the level of car headlights.

6. They’re not in a hurry.

In the modern world, it’s better to always look around in public places, because if you block someone’s way, they might just push you without asking you to get out of the way. When it comes to Scandinavians, you are likely to find one calmly standing behind you in the same situation — all because hurrying is not customary here. It can prevent you from enjoying the simple, but important, moments in life.

  • In the evening, try writing down one detail from your day that made it special. It can be an unusual sunset or a phrase heard in the underground.
  • Eat slowly. Concentrate on your food, on its taste, its smell, and your feelings. Not only does it help to shift your thoughts to the present moment, but it also makes your digestive processes work properly.

7. They eat like Vikings.

Redfish, rich in omega-3s, wild berries, mushrooms, nuts, and whole-grain bread — that is the real Nordic diet, which turns out to be healthy and can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • In your diet, all you need to do is include 3 fish dishes per week, whole-grain bread, and 150-200 grams of berries daily.
  • Fish oil is the perfect alternative. You should choose supplements made of fish muscle tissue, called “Fish Oil” in pharmacies, because fat extracted from the liver (cod liver oil) may contain harmful impurities.

8. They are not afraid to be cold.

Scandinavians are well aware of the benefits of cold weather, that’s why they leave strollers with babies napping in them outside in the winter. Nordic people believe that the cold will make the baby stronger and they will grow healthy. Research has shown that a cooler temperature can have many benefits for the body: it can improve quality of sleep and appetite, it can help you lose weight and reduce inflammation.

  • The good news is that you don’t have to swim in icy water outside — just finish your shower-taking procedures with cold water.
  • Walking outside in cold weather is beneficial too.

9. They believe in thermal therapy.

After having walked in the frost, Scandinavians go to the sauna that is part of almost every home. Finland, which has a population of 5.4 million people, has 3.2 million saunas. Thermal exposure helps relieve stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, get rid of headaches and increase mental performance.

  • If there is no sauna nearby, that’s not an issue — you can always lie with a warmer beside you or rub your body with a puff or take a hot bath.
  • A good way to relax is to get a massage with warm oil (you can opt for any kind). Slowly rub it into the skin of your head. This procedure stimulates your blood circulation and calms you down.

10. They care about the environment.

Scandinavians’ love for nature knows no boundaries — they always carry plastic bags for collecting trash, no matter whether they are going jogging or walking. This modern hobby is called Plogging, which is derived from 2 Swedish words: ’Plocka’ - ’to pick up’ and ’jogging.’

According to the Lifesum app, active walking with a garbage bag will allow you to burn 120 cal in 30 minutes, while it will be 288 cal for jogging with a trash bag (compared with 235 cal for a regular run).

  • Helping nature is much easier than it seems. For example, you can cook at home more often — this will help reduce the amount of plastic on the planet.

11. They appreciate personal space and the ability to stay alone.

If all the tandem seats on the bus are occupied, a Finn will prefer to stand in order to not disturb someone. The same unspoken rule works for benches.

It’s not for nothing that the famous phrase by Swedish actress Greta Garbo, “I want to be let alone!” has been remembered so well. Solitude is good for many things, like rebooting your mind and helping you to relax, improving your concentration and productivity, learning more about yourself, and even improving your relationships with your surroundings.

  • To do all these things, you don’t need to build a house deep in the forest — you can try waking up half an hour earlier than your family and dedicating this time to yourself.
  • A good way to stay alone is to switch your phone off for a while and to disable your access to social media.

12. They wear rubber boots.

The whole world considers rubber boots footwear for a country house, but Scandinavian girls wear them with jeans, dresses, and stockings. They wear them for a walk, for a date, and even to the office. These boots will protect your feet in any weather and will make you forget about wet socks forever. Moreover, you can feel freer and calmer when wearing them, because you don’t need to walk around puddles or worry that your shoes will get ruined. Their price is budget-friendly, while the footwear itself will last a long time. There are many companies in Northern Europe that produce this kind of footwear, even the Finnish company Nokia.

  • Shoes that can protect your feet from the most severe puddles deserve your attention. The modern version of these boots is made in such a way that they don’t make your feet sweat and there are special models for winter that won’t allow the cold to get inside.

Which of these useful habits are you going to start using? Are you aware of any other unique features of Scandinavians?


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They are not the only one country that wear a lot of light reflectors on their clothes. In fact, many european lands do this - it's a simple safety rule :)


I think the whole world can learn from them how not to be in a hurry really. It's almost impossible right now to live in big cities, and actually even in small villages - everyone is constantly on the move and in a hurry, even me

sometimes I feel like I want some rest from all of this


I sometimes wish some people understood what personal space means, just like Scandinavians. The world would be better this way, that's for sure


As a Finn I can recommend hot sauna and cold water combination. Afterwards you will feel great.


Why is everything about Finland when the article is mentioning Scandinavians?


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