After a year that challenged even the best of us, it is always helpful to remember the advantages of keeping a positive outlook. And who better to learn from than Finland, which has recently been named the happiest country in the world for the fourth consecutive year.

But what is it that makes the Fins so happy? It turns out that a lot of it just comes naturally, because it is part of the culture. But fortunately, we can incorporate aspects of this culture into own lives to also live happier, more fulfilling lives.  Below are four important lessons from the Nordics that we can incorporate into our own lives.

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  1. It’s all about perspective

The fact that Finland is the happiest nation on earth becomes even stranger when one remembers that the country is known for being very cold and also very dark for large parts of the year. While the rest of us wouldn’t dare to set a foot out the door in such conditions, the Fins just dress appropriately and go out anyway. In fact, they spend more time outdoors than many other nations where the weather is a lot better. This gives us two lessons rolled into one: don’t let external factors get you down, and spending time in nature is great for your mental well-being.

2. Humility is a virtue

Finland as a whole is not driven by the consumerism that we see in so many other countries. Because humility expected by the culture, Fins generally don’t go to social media to share their successes and their riches. Studies have shown that many people feel feelings of inferiority when they see how successful other people are on social media. In Finland, the emphasis is always on letting people know that they are your equal. This does wonders for happiness, as well as a sense of solidarity.

3. Honesty invites others in

Because the Fins are not focused on always putting forward the best version of themselves, both in real life and on social media, they are also more inclined to admit when they are struggling or not feeling great. This honesty allows others to empathize, and to offer support and help. It is important to have people in your life that you can trust with your feelings, because this is an important step towards a happier life.

4. A balanced life is a happy life

While Finland is a productive country for one with just over 5 million people, very few Fins work long hours. In fact, it is expected that employees go home at a set time. Each person’s work situation is different, but there is always more we can do to ensure that we maintain a balance that can contribute to our overall satisfaction.

While a lot of what the Fins are doing just sounds like common sense, the fact remains that they are doing it when many others are not. Which brings us to the first rule of happiness – it starts with an active choice.