What We Can Learn from Finland’s High Tech, Low Stress Culture

Unless you're one in that chosen minority of the workforce who makes money from a hobby, or you have perfected the art of meditation, there’s a good chance you have spent a Monday morning lamenting on the stress of modern life. British people spend an average of 54 minutes of their day commuting, around 40 hours a week aimlessly browsing the internet, and devote double the amount of time to the toilet than they do to the treadmill. Combine these lifestyle habits with a lack of space and a property market that resembles a ponzi scheme, and a perfect environment to birth and nature the following angry statement is created:

“Modern life is too stressful.”

I’ve often wondered when this complaint about modern life came into the national conscience. Was it at the end of the Victorian era when the telegraph machine meant the office was only a tap away, or maybe in the 1940s when every fourth family in a street obstructed the view of the village green with one family car. Or maybe it’s always been there; this nagging stressor in our minds.
You spend one evening with a faulty internet hub and discover that lack of communication does not make an evening of blissful relaxation. Cars go too fast these days, but we’re sure thankful for a 2.0-litre turbo diesel when we’re running late. And be honest, how many times has your attention been taken away from this blog post by the exciting allure of an email, message or breaking news story?

Perhaps modern living isn’t responsible for increasing stress levels. Maybe stress is caused by everything else.



High Tech, Low Stress

The birthplace of Nokia, Angry Birds and Neste Oil, Finland has gained a reputation as a European hub of digital marketing, technology, and start-up business. And it’s not just Finnish-made businesses that are creating that reputation. International tech behemoths like Google, Huawei, and Rolls- Royce have chosen Finland as the country to develop their digital endeavors and to expand their markets. And the growth isn’t limited to tech giants like Microsoft and GE; SLUSH, one of the biggest start-up events in Europe, is helping thousands of budding entrepreneurs achieve their dream. So what does this advanced, affluent and tech-savvy nation have that allows its inhabitants to enjoy the best of both worlds?

1. Trees 

Finland has more trees per square mile than any country in Europe. Let’s start calling the country Ferland, as 73% of the land is nothing but fir, oak and birch trees. Sorry about the dad joke there. It seems that there is a correlation between apple trees and Apple Macs, as a study by the University of Organ found that workers exposed to natural views from their office take a staggering 19% fewer sick days, while school children do less well in exams in windowless classrooms. so you could say that Finland is treemendous (sorry)

2. Equality 

Finland has been rated ninth on the Prosperity Index, a table ranking countries according to legal rights, social tolerance and freedom of speech and religion. Ranking ninth place in this table is a huge achievement, especially when compared to the famously diverse and innovative United Kingdom, that ranks at 18th place. Gender pay gaps in Finland are also something the world can learn from, as the country sits at third place for gender pay equality.

3. Happiness 

It’s no surprise that a country containing natural beauty, lots of space and Father Christmas’ house has a population officially ranked by the UN as the second happiest in the world. However, it is surprising that this fact was ever discovered, as the introverted nature of the Finnish make it hard to know what the hell they are feeling. But there’s a lesson that the rest of the world should follow here. All it takes to develop a society with a low crime rate and a high life expectancy is to encourage equality while maintaining a left-leaning government that emphasises social mobility, low-cost education, excellent healthcare, and strict pollution laws.

4. Sisu 

Every country has problems, and a major problem in Finland is seasonal depression caused by the early sunsets in the winter months. But it’s a common misconception that suicide is an annual epidemic. A 2018 study shows that although the current winter suicide rate of 13 in 100,000 inhabitants is somewhat higher than the European average, it still ranks lower than the suicide rates in Latvia, Hungry and Belgium. Many factors can be thanked for this decline, and the national way of thinking known as “Sisu” can be thanked for inspiring people even through the toughest times.

Sisu =

“Extraordinary determination, courage, and resolutions in the face of extreme adversity. An action mindset which enables individuals to reach beyond their present limitations, take action against all odds and transform barriers into frontiers.”

Such beautiful words! Just think what we could achieve with our time on this planet. Think of how strong we could be if we really internalised the idea of Sisu. If you manage it, please contact me and tell me how.

So, there you have it. Finland is a country that’s embraced a lifestyle that seems years ahead of the rest of us. With a forward-thinking mentality, appreciation of natural splendour and the unwavering right to be heard, educated, healthy and happy, Finland has a lot to teach us about living life to the hilt in a world that sometimes seems too stressful.

These achievements are worth the respect from the rest of us and give other nations a worthy example to follow.

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2 Comments

  1. Love the site Joe, very inspirational, am going to do some research into sisu and resilience. Useful for my training in schools about mental health.

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    1. Thank you very much!!! I’m really glad you managed to find the blog! 😊

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