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.

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!

Your attitude to changes?

Changes in life – such a natural thing. Nature changes every second, the trees grow, the ants die and a new panda is born. We change too, and so does everything around us. But at times, we act as something unnatural would have happened.

I take an example from the weather, now that it has definitely been the main topic in all conversations around.

So let me remind, at the moment I live in the central Germany, in Frankfurt Am Main. One week ago (as I posted as well), the spring arrived. The warmth came as a big wave, melt every German’s and stranger’s heart and put our hopes up. +15C and the sun up without the usual company of clouds. The grayness is over, let’s start the summer times! Or so everyone thought.

But sometimes a change comes overnight, unexpected. This business city got conquered by the snow, followed with a freezing wind. Everyone’s face seemed to have even more depressed expressions than before any sunny days. Snow was back, the winter continues.

I heard comments that it’s not possible to have snow and this cold in March anymore. Maybe they forgot that just one week before there was snow and the temperature was as low.

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Snowy street after the night of storm.

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Snow snow snow. Work before work to dig the car underneath.

Unfortunately, we can’t control all the changes. We can only control our attitude. If an unwanted change appears, we can choose to curse it with our companion or accept the situation as it is and take the best out of it.

There’s always another day. There is always another possibility for a positive turn, a new change.

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The sun warming the snow away again.

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This bicycle will also get back on road soon..

Sometimes the life goes as we expect. Sometimes it takes a turn down. But there will be a day that it turns back towards the sun again, and it’s all up to us if we believe it before the turn. We can control some changes, but when we can’t, we have always the opportunity to change our attitude.

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With my Converses on a dry street in the sun. Still cold, but I have already the summer in my mind.

Who decides what it is proper for you to wear?

This morning I was wondering how many shirts should I wear under my winter coat, since it’s been getting colder and colder again. I ended up putting on three. True, I’m not really a winter woman. Most of all, a very good protection for face with a scarf happened to be the most important one, since there was a huge snow storm!

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No signs of spring anymore.
Frankfurt Am Main / Today 12.03.2013

The temperature is one of the factors that we consider while choosing the clothes for the day, or night. The style differs if we are going to the school, to the office, to the gym or to a party. Then again, in parties there are variety of dress codes, black to a funeral, never white to a wedding, different shades of fanciness.

But one thing differs depending the culture, country or/and religion – how much it is proper to show. Western world seems to be quite limitless, except rare occasions with tight dress codes. Nudity and pale skin are not that much of taboos anymore, so a miniskirt and a tube top is a perfect outfit for a hot summer day. From someone’s point of view.

In Islamic culture on the other hand, the women traditionally cover their body, and as an extreme example of other end – with burqa, that covers the face and even the eyes. In many places these days, the Muslim women wear only hijab, a scarf that covers the hair.

The first time, that I experienced Islamic culture, was a trip to United Arab Emirates in the spring 2011. To be honest, it was a bit shocking to see the women walking with burkas, since I come from a country where the religion is not shown in everyday life with different dress codes.

After some days, I also tried Chador myself, a cloak covering the head and body, leaving the face open. I went to see Sheikh Zayed’s mosque in Abu Dhabi, and it was obligatory for the women to cover their body and head while visiting. This experience gave me very variety of feelings that I hadn’t been expecting. Before the visit I thought I would be very anxious with the black dress in such a hot day, but it was actually very cooling material. Also, the men around stopped staring. In the end I found it very comfortable and safe.

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The following days, when I saw the women with abayas, I started preferring their beauty and ability to make the outfit so classy with accessorizes to the tourists who were sweating in their too tight and revealing mini shorts.

Then again, I think everyone should have their own possibility to choose how they dress, how much they put clothes on and which style. It shouldn’t be any authority, law, rule, religion or a fashion queen to force people in one form. One day I feel covering all from top to toe, and another one I prefer the shoes that leave those toes open.

Which brings me to a discovery of today: I came across with a blog that publishes pictures of toes around the world, one part of the body that in some cultures is considered as a very private one.

I have always loved toes, as any other part of the body, and I think with the right amount of the pale skin the look can still be proper and beautiful. Dress codes for special occasions and proper taste to other days and nights. Let’s put our own consideration to this mad world.

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Here my toes all in sand. As I think very proper way on the beach.
San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, Italy / May 2012

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