Post by Riya Gohil, Happiness Alliance Intern and student in Business Administration at Wilson College, Mumbai India.
Kell’ onni on se onnen kätkeköön is a famous saying in Finland that means ‘Who has happiness should hide it.”. Ironically Finland is also the happiest country in the world!
In 2021, The World Happiness Report of 2021 determined that Finland is the happiest country for the fourth year in a row, with Denmark following closely. The report also includes the world’s unhappiest countries, which fall at the bottom of the list of 149 countries. This made me wonder why Finland is so happy and the countries at the bottom of the list so unhappy.. Surprisingly, many of my preconceived notions about happiness have been bashed.
But first, what is the World Happiness Report? The United Nations Sustainable Solutions Network publishes a report on 20th March (World Happiness Day) which includes rankings and articles about the happiness of countries. The rankings are calculated by asking respondents about their satisfaction with life. Six factors are considered to influence satisfaction with life: - average gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, generosity (charitable donations), social support (someone there in times of need), freedom in life choices and sense of corruption in government.
“Money can’t buy happiness” is a proverb widely known but seldom believed. While money can solve many problems, research has found that happiness does increase with the increase in income, but after it reaches a certain point (about $75000 USD per year in the US, or the equivalent in other countries), there is not much of a gain in happiness. This is known as the Easterlin Paradox. It was first proposed by Richard Easterlin, an economist, who studied happiness data as early as 1974. People in Finland are relatively well off and extremely wealthy. For the most part, in Finland, Instead of trying to get filthy rich, people are more focused on the other aspects of life.
For the very poor, Finland’s ‘Housing First’ policy tackles the problem of homelessness with an aim to provide people with a roof before other services. The Finns believe that problems like addiction, mental illness, and unemployment are easier to tackle if people have their own abode.
For the most part, the Finns believe in work-place autonomy, and follow a flat working model where the hierarchical levels are low so that the workers feel equal to their colleagues. They think that this is crucial for the productivity and happiness of the employees.
With an abundance of natural environment, low levels of pollution, low levels of economic and social inequality and a laid back lifestyle, it is not surprising that people are happier in Finland. These feats sound like a distant dream for the world but they are possible!