The Nordics just do it better - FACT. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland & Iceland are pretty much model students when it comes to ethical living and are also pro at tackling social issues to the bone. They're basically the top badass countries we should all be looking to right now in terms of inspiration, so feel free to take notes on the Nordic way of life...
Piles of homework don’t work
In case you didn’t know, Finnish students have topped all educational scores for more than a decade. Coincidence, you reckon? Turns out there’s more to it. It’s crazy but true: kids usually don’t spend more than 30 minutes each day on their homework (we know, it’s insanely wonderful). This leads to happy students getting more freedom to develop independence, practice other skills or simply enjoy life, which ultimately results in scoring higher grades. So there you have it: the perfect balance of work and leisure is the secret recipe for success. We just wish someone had told our parents when we were at school. We also wish our university rooms had looked a little more like the building below – this architectural masterpiece is a student’s university residence in Copenhagen. Inspiring much?
Fun fact: In Finland, dividing children into groups based on ability is strictly forbidden by law.
Equality as mentality
If you feel like a minority in your country, you should seriously consider joining one of the Nordic nations ASAP. All five attach great importance to the LGBT community and to women’s rights, making equality a priority. Check out the world’s first lesbian head of state in Iceland or the strong female presence in leadership roles in Sweden for proof.
The Nordics were also the first in giving women the right to vote. For decades, they have been dedicated to integrating more females into positions of power and although the salary gap is still existent, it’s amongst the lowest in the world.
Fun Fact: In Norway, it’s been more than a decade since the law requires all publicly listed companies to have at least 40% women on board. Hell yeah!
Security is key
No wonder these Northern countries score highly on education, happiness and oh so much more: citizens have access to a large social safety net which allows them to feel more secure in their daily lives. Sure their taxes are high (approximately 20% of income), but let’s look at the benefits most of these countries get as a result of higher taxes…
- Public schools are free (which means everyone has access to a decent education).
- Public healthcare is free or relatively cheap depending on the Nordic country.
- Maternity leave is super generous (up to twelve months), paid AND often shared among the couple (it’s up to them to decide) – we told you they don’t joke about equality.
- The government helps you get back on track if you lose your job by assisting you financially for a certain period of time (In Denmark for example, it’s 90% of your salary for up to two years).
Fun fact: In Finland, all pregnant women receive a baby box from the state to prepare them for parenthood. A collection of cute baby clothes, hygiene products and other newborn essentials can be found in this useful cardboard box that’s also used as a baby bed (the result of which has been proven to reduce infant mortality rate). Due to its wide success, many other countries are beginning to adopt the baby box.
Love of nature
The Nordic regions don’t just get that we have ONE planet earth (newsflash), they actually act like it too. ALL 5 nations are in the top 10 eco-friendly countries of the world and it doesn’t surprise us one bit. In a nutshell, most of the locals are avid bicycle riders, eco-living advocates and renewable energy users. Mother nature is clearly thankful since every Nordic country resembles a green temple of wildlife where breath-taking landscapes continually tempt the residents to step outside.
Fun fact: In Copenhagen, Denmark, there are more bikes than inhabitants.
Bring it on rain, clouds, snow and thunder – these people can take it all. No matter what the weather (and trust us, it can get preeeetty chilly up North), these warm-blooded sports fans will hop on their bikes, stretch out for their morning jog, trek in the wild or casually do a wife-carrying competition (you read that right). And when it’s time to relax, a nice steamy sauna is their perfect ritual remedy. This extra hot bath offers real health benefits and is also a nudist zone, so you get to develop a more accurate perception of boobs and booties than the media would have us believe. Diet wise the Nords are totally on-point with healthy meals, stocking up on fish, vegetables and whole grains for an exemplary diet.
Fun fact: 99% of Finns take at least one trip to the sauna each week.
Together life is better
Let’s hope by now you’ve understood that Nordic citizens are chilled AF and totally tolerant. With this in mind, it’s only logical to see how they enjoy communicating, sharing and merging with strangers. Nordic residents are truly considerate of others and value the social aspects of life by embracing small encounters and taking the time to meet like-minded individuals or their neighbours next door (the ones you and I consciously avoid as we climb up the ladder of awkwardness). In Denmark, this way of life has a name of its own : Hygge. Locals use this word to describe a moment spent within a warm, cosy atmosphere with loved ones, which is regarded as essential to their culture. The main “rule” of Hygge is to be mindful of others and always act with respect – a mentality that should naturally be applied worldwide if you ask us.
Fun fact: In Denmark, more than 40% of the population volunteers on a regular basis, whether it’s for their local sports association or a world famous NGO.
The prison system is geared towards low reoffending rates
Norwegians have cleverly concluded that when prisoners are treated inhumanely they are less likely to adopt a positive lifestyle and attitude once they’re released (surprising, ey?). For this reason, they treat those in prison fairly AND teach them how to live within a community. Prisoners work on a daily basis but during their free time they can take educational or training courses, go fishing or swimming in the summer, practice an instrument, cook for themselves or even watch television. Usually, four to five convicts are placed together in wooden cottages so that they learn how to live in harmony and become more independent. Thanks to all this, Norwegian jails hold the lowest reoffending rates in the whole of Europe because prisoners feel like they can re-integrate into a life of normality more easily.
Fun fact: Most of the Norwegian detention centres hold a farm so that convicts can learn how to take care of animals and crops as well adapt to working in a group environment.
With all this positivity, it’s no surprise Nordics are happy peeps, live longer and feel safe on a general basis. Now that you’ve noted down all their tricks, it’s time to put them into action and add “ultimate wellbeing” to your top priority list.