The Secret of Finnish Happiness
Finland surely is not a tropical paradise so how can it be that Finland – a country with long, cold, dark winters and dark, cold rainy autumns and cold, rainy, nightless summers and cold, rainy springs – can be the happiest nation in the world?
According to political scientist and emeritus professor Ronald F. Inglehart "freedom to make life choices can explain even 30% of subjective well-being". With this we are pretty good here in Finland, equality is inbuilt to the Finnish society. As an example, we have free (and mandatory) education for all kids for the first 9 grades. Every school offers a free lunch to every child in school, rich or poor. And much to most foreigners’ surprise, also the university education is free in Finland for Finns (and pretty inexpensive for foreign students as well).
To quote professor Inglehart once more: ”The Nordic countries constitute “the leading example of successful modernization, maximizing prosperity, social solidarity, and political and personal freedom.”**
Although we very happy nation, we don’t shout it too much. Us Finns are pretty humble and modest. Maybe even too humble. It is very hard to praise ourselves and if we are REALLY proud of something, the awesomest adjective ”ei paha" describing our excitement can be translated in English to ”not bad”.
However our humbleness can be turned to positive. We like to underpromise and overdeliver. Us Finns are also very reliable. And vice versa, we also trust other people, our society and even (some) politicians.
To explain better the Finnish reliability, back in 2013 Reader’s Digest organised a reliability study in 16 countries. Test was very simple: the researchers dropped 12 wallets* to the streets and shopping malls in every country. Finns were most reliable in this study: 11 out of 12 wallets were returned. In Germany the researchers received back 6 out of 12 wallets and in England 5 out 12. And interestingly enough, in Switzerland only 4 out of 12.
* Each wallet contained a phone number, family photo, coupons, business cards and around 40€ cash
** Source: International Differences in Well-Being (2010, Oxford University Press)
Read more about the Nordic Happiness here:
Photo by Alexandr Bormotin on Unsplash