10 wise Finnish sayings about life we all need to hear


It’s fair to say that we’re not living in the best times at the moment. So, we at Very Finnish Problems are brightening the mood by sharing ten of our favourite sayings from the world’s happiest nation. Now, without further ado, let’s get inspirational.

1. Hätä keinot keksii

“Needs invents the measures.” This Finnish saying reminds us that things tend to work out in the end. Issues will probably get solved at the last minute, so don’t stress too much. Anyone who’s submitted a huge essay five minutes before a deadline will know this one makes sense.

2. Joka vanhoja muistelee, sitä tikulla silmään

This amusing saying means that people who dwell in the past get poked in the eye. Nobody wants to be poked in the eye – it hurts – so too does holding pointless grudges and remembering the bad stuff. So, it’s best not to stay angry at people for what they’ve done in the past unless they’ve poked you in the eye. In that case, give them a poke back when they’re least expecting it.

3. Tyvestä puuhun noustaan

This one is the Finnish version of the saying “you must learn to walk before learning to run.” But the direct translation means “a tree is climbed from the base.” Wise words indeed, as Finns know a thing or two about climbing trees. There are so many trees in Finland that each Finn could have 4,500 each. It may be lazy to admit this, but I’d use a crane to get to the top of all those.

4. Ei ole koiraa karvoihin katsominen

In English speaking nations, the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is used to remind us not to judge other people before you know them. This saying carries the same message but translates to “don’t choose a dog by its hair.” We at Very Finnish Problems are right behind this saying, especially when it comes to books. If you’re looking to judge a book like say- 101 Very Finnish Problems – it’s best to buy a few copies for you and your friends and read them cover to cover. It’s the right thing to do.

5. Kell’ onni on se onnen kätkeköön

This one sounds pretty bleak, as it advises people to hide their happiness. But it’s about staying humble rather than hiding positive feelings. For example, if you’re driving a brand-new car, don’t brag about it to someone who’s catching the bus. It’s really annoying.

6. Ei se pelaa, joka pelkää

Roughly translated to “the one who fears won’t play” is all about not letting fear hold you back from exciting opportunities. Sometimes you just have to take a risk and go for it and see what happens. Of course, we’re talking about stuff like doing stand-up comedy or asking someone out on a date. Things like being afraid of driving the wrong way on a motorway are perfectly logical.

7. Rahalla saa ja hevosella pääsee

This one states that “you can spend your money and get there on a horse.” It means that you can’t get something for nothing, and you have to be willing to spend your money on the things you want. As most of us know, this saying is painfully true most of the time. But not always. When it comes to buying cool merchandise from the Very Finnish Problems store, you get free worldwide shipping for orders over 65 €. We just love being nice!

8. Oppia ikä kaikki

This is Finnish for “All the years are full of learning,” which is the same message as the saying “You live and learn.” We at Very Finnish Problems are right behind this and like to think our blog teaches a few people about Finnish life. It’s full of fabulous Finnish facts. Some of them are so unusual; you’ll think we’ve made them up.

9. Vahinko ei tule kello kaulassa

“Accidents don’t come with a bell around their necks” is all about life’s little surprises. It warns that when life takes a turn for the worst, it’ll probably happen out of nowhere, so it’s good to be prepared. If the global pandemic has taught us anything, is that this saying is very true indeed.

10. Jokainen on oman onnensa seppä

Let’s end with a nice saying which means “everyone is the smith of their own happiness.” Happiness and success often come from the choices we make and the work we do to achieve it. Of course, life can sometimes throw a few undeserved curve balls at us now and again, but we can control most of the big stuff.



  • It’s tempting to make up some new ones.
    „Let the snow pile up on the roof and you’ll be sleeping in fluffy bliss“.

    „Blood sausages for the city and reindeer on the road“. (Means whatever you want it to mean… that one must go hunting for one’s own food outside the cities?)

    Märy Mekko
  • You forgot the saying “Healthy as a mountain goat”

  • Great sayings. Thank you!

    Tuan Nguyen
  • Love reading Finnish sayings!

    Kathleen Rettke

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