Finland Is The World’s ‘Happiest’ Country … But What Does That Really Mean?

You might be surprised by how Finnish people see themselves. Finland Is The World’s ‘Happiest’ Country … But What Does That Really Mean? Adobe Stock

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The U.S. Declaration of Independence contains a famous passage citing the “unalienable” right to the “pursuit of happiness.”

But as we all know, pursuing happiness is no guarantee that you’ll achieve it. In fact, 14 other countries outranked the U.S. in the latest World Happiness Report.

Once again, Finland came out on top — but that doesn’t mean Finnish people are walking around with big smiles on their faces all day.

Managing expectations

Following the results of the latest global index, the New York Times interviewed a range of individuals from across Finland who represented virtually all backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles. There was a constant theme in what the reporters heard.

A 58-year-old English teacher named Nina Hansen echoed the sentiment of many of her fellow Finns, explaining: “I wouldn’t say that I consider us very happy. I’m a little suspicious of that word, actually.”

Another individual lamented that the word happiness is often “used like it’s only a smile on a face,” explaining that “Nordic happiness is something more foundational.”

Instead of pursuing happiness, the general consensus seems to be that the people of Finland are able to find satisfaction in the reality that exists for them.

Achieving contentment

There were a few aspects of life in Finland that individuals said were crucial for a content life, including:

  • A strong social safety net
  • Soothing natural elements
  • The culture of music or sports

But at the same time, many people acknowledged that they are often preoccupied with feelings of anxiety and loneliness. Despite six straight years atop the World Happiness Report’s list, Finns themselves frequently described their homeland as a gloomy place filled with individuals who rarely smile.

Nevertheless, these generally resilient people who are content in their circumstances … and for them, that seems to be enough.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee April 3rd, 2023
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