Often, when I'm working from home, I'll have the Travel Channel on in the background. Most of the time it's background noise but sometimes it provides a nugget of information that just makes you think; things that make you go "hmmmm...."
Today's background trip was Passport to Europe with Samantha Brown (the person I would switch bodies with, "Freaky Friday" style). Samantha was in the capital of Finland, Helsinki and here's something that will blow your Western, consumerist mind: the stores in Helsinki close on Saturday at 2pm. Yes, on Saturday, the shopper's sabbath, the day where it's next-to impossible to find a parking spot within 10 blocks of Macys, when countless high-school students pick-up some extra cash manning the registers for the hoards of us overspenders, convinced we can't live without that red sweater.... On this day in the capital of Finland, stores lock their doors at 2pm. And why, you ask, would they deny their retail establishments, their economy, the ultimate capitalist driver?
So they can go to the spa/sauna.
Yes, the Fins, aparently, have a huge obsession with the purifying benefits of the hot, hot, sauna - some up to 120 degrees.... CELSIUS! So, on Saturday afternoon, instead of shopping 'till their credit cards are maxed-out, they take off work and head-out to do something good for their bodies.
How cool is that? And what does it say about the priorities of a nation? Here we are in the U.S., fretting about our economy, drying our tears because we lost homes we couldn't afford in the first place, getting hot under the collar because it takes $100 to fill-up our gas guzzlers, and paying the minimum balances on our over-used credit cards... and there the Fins are on a Saturday afternoon, relaxing in a hot sauna.
The Fins also drink more cups of coffee per capita than any other country in the world. And their average life expectancy? 39th in the world or 78.66 years. In the U.S. it's 78.06 years, 45th in the world.
Maybe they've got something here: Drink more coffee and devote your Saturday afternoons to more rejuvenating pursuits.
I can do that.
p.s. I should add that Andora and South Korea both beat the USA in life expectancy. To see the full list, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy