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I was offered a free trip to Finland to learn how to be happy — one of my biggest takeaways was the importance of being grateful for what you have

Akso Heart in Finland
Akso Heart in Finland.Akso Heart
  • Akso Heart attended Visit Finland's happiness masterclass in June.

  • The course flew foreigners to the country to teach them how to be happy like the Finns.

  • Heart said he learned how to connect with nature and be grateful for what he had. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Akso Heart who attended Visit Finland's happiness masterclass. The course was meant to teach foreigners how to be happy like the Finns and was paid for by the country. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I attended Finland's all-expense paid happiness masterclass this summer. One of my biggest takeaways was the importance of being grateful for what you have.

The happiness course was set up in Kuri resort, which is in the Finnish Lakeland area. We lived in stunning little cabins with a spa and sauna and surrounded by forests and a beautiful lake.

Each day of the course had core themes such as nature, lifestyle, food, health and well-being, and design. We spent each day with expert coaches who ran classes going through these subjects.

Connecting with nature

Another one of the main takeaways for me was how important the Finnish connection with nature is. I've even adopted an indoor plant forest since I got back to the UK.

Akso Heart plant garden in London
Akso Heart's indoor plant forest in London.Akso Heart

Living in London, I felt disconnected from nature. In a big city, you're not connected to that natural environment so there was something so calming and quiet about meditating in a forest or just being silent. It makes you think retrospectively, which we don't normally get opportunities to do.

I wasn't a yoga or meditation person at all before the trip, my mind was buzzing constantly. As a content creator, I'm always trying to jump on trends or spending too much time on my phone, and don't often have moments where I can be still.

The sauna culture was also an odd one when you're not used to it.

Everyone goes to the sauna once in the morning or the evening. It's a great place to have a conversation and reconnect with people. We had private saunas in our cabins as well, which was nice for people who weren't used to it.

Community spirit

One day, we even went foraging and fishing ourselves in a remote area with one of the instructors. I think we get so caught up in technology that we lose that physical relationship with things such as food.

In a sense, you're producing food for a whole community, however big that is, and that feels good. It's a way of feeling like you're giving back to your community.

Akso Heart and other participants on the masterclass
Akso Heart and other participants on the masterclassAkso Heart

I also didn't expect to learn about design on a happiness course, but once you're there, you get it. I've even implemented some of it in my own home now.

Simplicity and self-sufficiency

One of the people running a session gave us a wilderness guide and showed us how he lived remotely with only a very basic old phone. He had taken everything back to basics but seemed very content with his life.

I think it would be naive to say that if you go to Finland, your life will change dramatically, but part of their culture is being grateful for what they have.

In Finnish culture, happiness is more about contentment because you're grateful for where you are and what you have. Sometimes, we miss out on this in other countries.

Read the original article on Business Insider