What really is Finnishness?

My experience of Finnishness is rooted in three ideas, respect, trust, and contentment.


to start with respect, every interaction (or lack thereof) is rooted in respect for each other in Finland. there is a powerful respect for personal boundaries in Finland, and the idea of “you do you, I’ll do me”. One example of this is when a Finn might bump into another on a bus; both people know that this was simply an accident, and it happens, and there is no need to apologize or even acknowledge it happened because if you were to speak it might further disturb the person you bumped into. another aspect of this is respect for nature. Finland is so beautiful with its forests and lakes, and as a culture we respect it by cleaning up after ourselves, replanting trees after they’ve been cut, and protecting it however we can.

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When I first moved to Finland I was amazed at the level of trust Finns had in all aspects of their lives. In the US for example, people are very wary of the government, salesmen, strangers, basically everyone they don’t have a very deep relationship with. What’s amazing in Finland is the trust they put in others in all sorts of different situations. For example, when traveling and forgetting a document, you speak with the customs agent and explain the situation 9 times out of 10 they’ll believe you after just 10 minutes of speaking. Or when negotiating benefits for a job, there is mutual respect and trust between the employer and employee, and the final deal is made in good faith. and trust in the rule of law, and that there is a reason different government regulations are in place and that they should be followed to make things better for all people.

Finally, Finnish culture can also be based on contentment and appreciation. You can compare the American dream to the Finnish dream. these days the American dream is to own a mansion, have tons of money, to truly build an empire for your children that will last generations. Comparatively, what I’ve seen to be the Finnish dream is to own your own Mökki on a lake somewhere to enjoy on your days off with your partner and children, and just enjoy the nature and quiet around you. So a big part of Finnishness is appreciating the little things you have, and having that sustain you, whether it is reading a good book in a comfy chair while watching the snow outside, or having a beer in the Sauna with a close friend and just having a laugh together. these little things are what make life worth living.



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