Lets face it, times are tough. Our tag line at Goodordering is #happycycling this is because back in 2012 when i started the company, one of my biggest inspirations was to get people to rediscover the joy of cycling. Our mission (in business speak) was "to encourage more people to ride bikes to school or work" - not just because its good for the environment, or the bank balance, but because when i started riding a bike to work, it completely changed my life. I became happier.
What other simple tweaks can you make in your life to make your happier? I'm not happiness expert, or psychologist, so i did a bit of my own research. How do you deal with life's setbacks and focus on what you can control in your life in order to increase your happiness?
Did you know that Finland has the happiest people in the world? Did you wonder why? well i think it might be because of their personalities?
There is a theory called Stoicism which looks into affecting the things you can control. "Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions".
Stoics believe that perception is the basis of knowledge or happiness, and you may not be able to change your actual situation but you can definitely change your perception of your situation.
It can be a little cheesy, but when i got diagnosed with cancer i tried to think of the positives. This was kind of hard at first, but it changed a lot of things in in my life for the better. For example i worked less, i travel more and i stopped (almost overnight) stressing about work.
Einstein said, "its not the most intelligent that will do best but those who are the most adaptable that will do best". So being open to transformation and learning will ultimately make us thrive the best.
Here you can read about 5 stoic strategies to increase happiness. The first one is all about STOP WORRYING ABOUT THINGS THAT YOU CAN'T CONTROL. I know its easier said than done, but we can try can't we.
Here are the five strategies for happiness according to the Stoicism mindset:
- Stop worrying about what you can't control
- Focus on what you can control
- Think about Death
- Want less
- Simplify your life
The Stoics argue that the only two things that we have absolute control over are our thoughts and actions. Which means that if we can master how we think about situations we are in, we have a very good chance of happiness.
I’m listening to Ep. 8: If You’re Happy by Derren Brown, narrated by Derren Brown on my Audible app. Try Audible and get it here.
Each year the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network publish the World Happiness Report. In the 2022 report, they acknowledge all the recent hardships like covid, the war in Ukraine and other ongoing wars, and surprisingly they found that in some ways hardship can bring out the good in people. Its interesting that for the 5th year in a row, Finland was top of the list of the happiest countries in the world. Here is the list
The world's happiest countries in 2022
This list led me to research WHY finland has consistently scored so high on the happiness list and what we can learn from the Fins.
Here are some of the reasons:
- Gifts for new mothers
- Generous parental leave
- support for the unemployed
- free high quality education and healthcare
- low inequality
- their philosophy of 'sisu' which means ‘strength of will’ or ‘stoic perseverance’
Whilst we can't all just up and move to Finland to take advantage of these cultural / political advantages, we can embrace a philosophy of Stoicism which can help change our perception of our situation. Here are some examples that i have come up with that are relevant to me living with 2 kids in a small rented flat in Hackney.
* if it rains when i drop the kids off i look at the rain and pretend i'm a kid again (rather than swear that i'm living in the most miserable gray country)
* when my son won't be co-erced to do anything he is told, i tell myself its good because he may not be tempted into mischief by his teenage friends in the future because he has such a strong mind.
* if i get an angry complaining email from a customer, i think, well at least they could be bothered to tell me rather than just mouth off negative remarks about my brand to their friends. They are giving me the benefit of response.
Twisting situations to see the positive can be like training a muscle, i'm going to keep trying and i also might start learning Finnish too!