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Why Finns Don't Want to be Happy

Are people in Finland happy or not? They have beautiful scenery, world-class schools, Santa Claus, weird sports such as wife-carrying and phone throwing, a robust social safety net, Northern Lights, and the government gives every new baby a box of supplies just for being born. Yet Finns are renowned for their dour, sometimes fatalistic outlook on life. And now there's a survey that proclaims how happy they are.

According to the 2018 World Happiness Report, based on research conducted by Gallup, Finland is the happiest country in the world. The Finns are not so sure about the result, though – being, as they are, a typically stoic sort of people.

“Nordic people, and the Finns in particular, are emotionally introverted,” explained Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, an independent think tank in Denmark that studies happiness and wellbeing. “They rarely rank highly on expressions of joy or anger – they are very different in that way from people from Latin America, for example, who have a more exuberant emotional expression as a people. For [the Finns], happiness is more about living a reserved, balanced and resilient life.”

The seeming contradiction is in how you define your terms. The survey measured quality of life, which many people would assume leads to happiness. The word "happy" itself brings up a picture of people expressing joy, as in that song by Pharrell Williams. In Finland, the two don't quite meet, as you can read about at BBC Travel. They also explain kalsarikänni, or the tradition of getting drunk at home in your underwear. -via Digg

(Image credit: Flickr user Mariano Mantel)


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