Is It The Freedom That Brings The Happiness?

Freedom. What is it? This is the subject the famous Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is writing about in his novel ‘Zahir’.

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Is it freedom to be free from all the possible obligations of the society? Free from work, free from taxes and free from a specific place. Is it freedom to have the possibility to come and go as one wishes, and without obligations to anyone?

In case you’re able to succeed to find all the freedom, will you be happy? Can one be happy free from everything? What is happiness anyway?

I personally think both freedom and happiness are states of mind. You won’t be any freer if you leave your partner, and neither any happier if you buy a new car. The only way is to work on ourselves, develop our own minds. Then even those points would make you freer and/or happier.

In order to experience happiness, we have to be brave enough to let the freedom take its place in our lives, and there’s no space for jealousy or any other disturbing feeling in this process.

One needs to search freedom and the following happiness in full understanding of the universe. We need to be able to give space for everything and everyone around us, enjoy the path of life with patience and stay open for unknown.

What is freedom then in concrete? Is it the permission that I gave to myself to enjoy this beautiful evening by a lake?

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At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion with my thoughts that the freedom is most of all a way of thinking. The concrete side of it is very personal. Someone feels free seeing the sunset solo, someone else when sharing the moment with another one. I feel the freedom when I am able to choose from these two options.

Search yourself, find your freedom and you may start following your path to happiness.

Losing my food religion

There is something a bit personal, I would like to share. At the age of 14, I started being one sort of a vegetarian cutting the red meat out. My point for this diet all those years ago was to protect animals and to stop the misbehaving towards them. The years passed by and the actual bettering of the world got out of my eating and partly vegetarian diet became just a habit. And it grew stronger every day, like a religion that I couldn’t break.

Now ten years later, something cracked in my head when I heard my friends around talking about this delicious Spanish jamon iberico. How many tastes and experiences have I missed during all my trips?

Thoughts rolled in my mind few days and on one French-Italian picnic I did something for everyone’s surprise, side of all the smelly cheeses, I tasted a piece of some delicious southern meat as well. And it was good.

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The actual eating part wasn’t hard at all, physically I felt very fine during and after this meat experience. The whole thing was in the end a mental issue. It was the breaking-a-rule part, finishing the commitment that I had promised to myself, that made me feel guilty. I lost my religion.

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Finally coming to my senses, from now on I will keep eating healthy, preferably local and eco-friendly products, but also meat included with little amounts, by supporting fair trade. With these points in mind I will do much more good.

We as humans create lots of rules and regulations for ourselves based on surrounding believes, religions, laws, trends and endless other reasons, and many of them we don’t even need. It can be anything from a new fashionable diet to push a career at work. We should be an advanced species enough to analyze, what is the best for our well-being and the nature around.

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Now enjoying fresh and very local strawberries back in my original home
Jyväskylä, Finland

The culture of trust

When I was a little girl, some days we had all doors of our family’s house open without anyone home, us kids playing somewhere outside and running through the house every once in a while. Once I found the neighbours’ cat inside, once a squirrel. I know this sounds very careless way of behaving to some of my friends around the world who always locked their doors many times and prayed on top of that not to get robbed. Just, the surrounding culture is different.

Because of the common trust in the neighbourhood in a rather small town and the Finnish culture behind, free living was the normality. I never found a thief or someone uninvited, just those animals. When all the people around have the same mindset it is possible to create such a trust.

Trust is a big subject about which I have learned on my many travels and cultural experiences. As I am from Finland, I compare my background learned there to everything I experience.

Trust exists on different levels. It is not something you’re born with, you learn to live it from the people and culture around you. For example, my parents gave me the sense of their trust on me and as a respect back to them I’ve always worked hard to keep that trust both ways.

Trust in any community (from neighbourhood and sport teams to a country and the whole world) grow by knowing and understanding one another. The more everyone puts effort and their heart in it, the more trustworthy the being can become.

A human being is not bad, mean, greed or untrustworthy from birth, the influence of the existing world and thoughts and believes of people nearby modify every person to behave in a certain way.

A crash appears when we experience a different way from what we’ve learned. Coming from a place where you have a common trust around, I had to learn through different events that (at least at the moment) it is not the same everywhere. Police, other officials and neighbours might have their own agenda behind every action. Also it is not easy to start trusting if you’ve always been careful.

In the end, we are all the same, and only we as humans can change the existing norms. By creating more truth and trust around us, we can go ahead towards living free together. It acquires lots of patience, openness and most of all capability to throw ourselves to trust.

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Creating art makes you trust your feelings and soul on paper ..or on whatever else

Belonging

Belonging to something is a big and important part of our lives. Cultures and all the groups around give us the privilege to fill the life with connections and caring.

We all belong to many subgroups, such as bloggers, surfers and teachers. But talking about deeper connections, we start to understand ourselves, how we have become the persons that we are. Also, we learn to see behind the actions of others and respect the different ways of living.

The surrounding people and areas have the biggest effect on our lives. From our parents, we get the genes and the heritage of the family history, and from school mates and teachers, we adapt many skills for life. All the people around us influence the way we grow to be. The city, country, cultural and linguistic areas and also different unions (such as European Union) build a part of us with their history, religions, laws and habits.

The main parts of one’s behaviour, attitudes and believes come from the culture they are born in, one gets raised to live following certain laws, and one’s morals in life are likely to be based on the believes of the main religion of the country. For example, even if I don’t belong to a specific church anymore, the cultural background of Christianity in Finland stays in me – I believe it is a right thing to do to be good to one another and respect the life around without destruction.

Every single person on this planet is unique with their personal background. But regardless of all the differences there might be, we all belong to one big group – human beings of this planet. All the same. We all have thoughts and feelings.

It’s natural for a human being to gather a group around, to have a stronger feeling of belonging, such as we see the cities, countries and different cultural areas as the result of this behaviour.

But a human also moves, gets attracted by diversity and wants to improve. Since in the end we are all the same, I personally don’t understand the self-destruction of societies and the whole world in general. Limiting moving by countries borders, manipulating thinking, blocking creating and in the same, making slower the whole evolution of a human being.

A very wise friend of mine put this question in my mind with awakening words: “Isn’t it just absurd that one human being born in a certain place in a certain time cannot move free on this very planet because another creature just like him/her has decided so?”

I’m wondering if there’s a solution for us to live in peace in full diversity without made limits, power of cash, wars and poverty. The Earth is a beautiful place to live and learn. Shall we ever give a proper chance for us to improve, succeed and most of all – belong to this place and time together?

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The silence of the midsummer’s nightless night // Keuruu, Finland

My home Finland

Last week, I flew back to my home country Finland. Since I have been staying abroad a long time already, during the trip to my home town Jyväskylä, I realized and understood many things of Finland that foreigners have told me that surprised them.

The surroundings, habits, and lots of other invisible things of a culture make a place or life feel home. For a visitor it is all different. Sometimes a shock.

This time I took a place of a foreigner and tried to see Finland with their eyes. How do they see Finland? What will surprise them?

Since I have been dealing a lot with people from south of Europe, let’s take one pair of those eyes. Here are some thoughts, I have heard that have amazed or surprised those foreigners, and that I confirmed during my visit.

Wow, it is actually warm here!
Yes, the summer exists in Nordic countries as well. It might be different but it is summer. Temperature was +24 and the sun was shining when I stepped out of the plane.

The trees are so small.
In southern Europe as well as central Europe the trees seem mammoth size next to these little ones.. Road trip view.

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What did the bus driver say??!
The Finnish language belongs to Uralic languages (sometimes heard Finno-Ugric languages). It is completely different from bigger groups for example in Europe and Americas, that also have influenced each other. An example, an English word ‘centrum’:
Centro = Spanish
Centro = Italian
центр (Tsentr) = Russian
Centre = French
Zentrum = German
Centrum = Swedish
Keskusta = Finnish

Nokia 9km
A little village Nokia close to Tampere (the 3rd biggest city in Finland) is much more known in the world probably than Finland itself. Even a road sign ‘Nokia 9km’ could be a funny touristic sight for a foreigner.

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Does anyone live in this country?
During the bus trip, the view was much just nature, nature and nature. Forest, thousands of lakes and some forest again. A house or two every once in a while. There are only about 5,2 million inhabitants in the whole country, so there is some space for the nature as well.

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22.00 and the sun is still up?
Up north (as well as down in the very south) for half a year, there’s light. North of Finland enjoys the nightless night in the end of June, also a little bit more southern the sun stays up almost all night.

Because Finland is my home, I am used to certain things. When you go far, you see close. I’ve been around and now I see so many beautiful and special things of my original home, and I appreciate them a lot more. Go far and learn to respect your roots!

First days of spring

The spring has arrived! Yesterday afternoon, I felt the first time that my heavy and so lovely warm winter coat was way too much. Degrees rising suddenly over +10C and sun burning my eyes, after so many dark months – a surprise attack, but oh so nice! This is Central Europe, there are few months of grayness and then we realize that the sun actually exists.

In Finland (or in Nordic countries in general), where I originally come from, the winter is Looong. With a capital letter. Months and months of snow, and total darkness of a little while. Then again, the summer and its’ nightless nights differ so much from the blackness of the winter that the amount of light always comes as a surprise. Everyone seems to enjoy the spring-summer times 200%.

I have been thinking over the few years of my life, how much the sun, the light and the warmth change a person. Do we feel happier in the lightest times? When the autumn comes, darker nights on a cozy sofa with my candles and darling, makes me very happy. So do I need more light or hot air?

Yes, I need. I have realized that I (as maybe many others) live in seasons, there are seasons to explore and try, and seasons to reflect and relax, and yes, also sleep.

When the sun shines, I feel lighter. Everything seems to go to their places. Maybe it’s the positivity that comes naturally these times that makes me do things in a certain way. It makes you take risks, makes you jump more. Risks and jumps take you to places you otherwise wouldn’t go. Maybe that’s why summer is the time to explore, go crazy and just let it go. Time to live full after sleeping.

Spring is the time to wake up from the long (or a bit shorter) sleep and start opening our eyes towards the sky and our next destinations. And so to say, the spring is definitely here now! I feel to jump somewhere. Just, let’s see where.

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Early morning with a beautiful sunshine, that has been waiting a long time to appear!
Frankfurt am Main, Germany / March 2013

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The strongest feeling of spring for me make always the late sunsets.
Main river, Frankfurt am Main, Germany / March 2013

You have to travel far to see close – Introduction to exploring

You have to travel far to see close. I heard this quote many times since a kid, but understood the true meaning only when I actually went far. And by this I don’t even mean physically travelling to the other side of the globe (which I also did). Even in your own home city you can explore something very far from your everyday life.

We are used to repeat our days. We have habits in everything, the route to work as well as which milk we choose in the supermarket next door. Even a little change can open your eyes, in these examples changing the car to walking one morning (meaning another route) or going to another supermarket that might not have the same milk brand.

Anyone may start exploring physically close but travel very far in the mind. Of course, abroad it’s more likely that several different things hit you that you’ve never thought of before. A holiday to the beach resort might not be the most culture shocking choice, since it is designed for you to feel EXACTLY as at home, most of the times also the travel guide speaks your language. If the purpose of the trip is to relax and have everything as easy as possible, ready package vacation is the one to choose. In this case though, the culture of the country doesn’t really open to you.

How to explore a new culture then? In the end, it takes very little effort. Most important is to keep your mind open, give a possibility for the new ways of living introduce themselves to you. Meeting the locals is a very good start, also when visiting your neighbour city in your own country. There’s always someone who is ready to show you the insights of their culture. Locals are likely to bring you to places that you otherwise wouldn’t find, make you taste something you’ve never heard of, and teach you a part of their history and beliefs.

Listening, hearing, seeing and feeling this new world will make you compare it to your home culture. What do I like better here, what I prefer at home? What could we learn from each other? You might learn a new language, or improve one. Interaction with anything different from you will give you so much, make you grow and think. It will make you richer.

Here I have some examples what kinds of things you could explore. All the pictures are from my travel archives of past years.

Exploring the miracles of nature, temperature changes, different landscapes and extreme experiences in it, getting to know the history and art, changing points of view and interacting through other visions and thoughts, tasting new flavours and sensing the vibes:

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Amazing view of Mediterranean sea. I was introduced to Sicilian culture by a local family, I ate fresh melons from their backyard, improved my Italian and explored the history of the area.
Erice, Sicily, Italy / August 2012

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Freezing moments with -30C degrees, glittery snow in the air. My home but always an experience to feel it.
Jyväskylä, Finland / December 2012

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White river rafting – feeling the great power of the nature, understanding our mortality, living full with adrenaline.
Rotorua, New Zealand / March 2011

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Going back in time, feeling the ancient. I found this place to visit thanks to my Sicilian friend.
Segesta, Sicily, Italy / August 2012

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Fresh provoking art on shirt with the happy owner – me, Spr Fkr
I participated open doors of the museums of modern art in the downtown of Los Angeles and changed points of view with a local, talented artist.
Los Angeles, California, USA / Februay 2011

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Interacting with the visions of the greatest artists of all times in Louvre museum. I have visited several times, but I never get enough of the master pieces in it.
Paris, France / December 2011

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Delicious bruschetta bread after a burning day by Mediterranean sea. ‘On a holiday’
Terracina, Italy / August 2011

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A very special flavoured liqueur from Finland, tastes similar to liquorice, just saltier. Definitely a must! A ‘little-piece-of-home’ present from a lovely friend visiting me this weekend.
Frankfurt Am Main, Germany / February 2013

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Vibes of a lake in the silence of a  nightless night. In the middle of all chaos and experiences it is important to stop and reflect.
Keuruu, Finland / June 2008