For five consecutive years, the country has consistently been ranked as the happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. What exactly has kept them so satisfied with their lives?
In the 2022 report, people in 156 countries “rated their lives on a scale of 0 to 10, with the worst possible life being 0”. Factors of social support, longevity, generosity and economy… are also taken into consideration.
Leading the list continues to be Finland, marking the fifth year in a row that the country holds the number one position.
Other Nordic countries also continue to hold the top of the rankings. Denmark holds second place, followed by Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The US rose three places from the report a year ago, reaching 16th and ahead of the UK. France moved up to 20th place. Vietnam also moved up the list, from 79th in last year’s report to 77th.
Dr. Frank Martela is a philosopher and psychologist who studies the fundamentals of happiness. He is also a lecturer at Aalto University in Finland and author of the book The Wonderful Life: Insights into the Search for a Meaningful Existence.
Throughout his study of Finnish philosophy and psychology, Dr. Frank Martela is often asked: What exactly makes Finns so satisfied with their lives?
Finnish people welcome the summer solstice in Helsinki in 2018. Photo: Reuters.
He revealed, to maintain a high quality of life, here are three things that the people of this country never do:
1. They don’t compare themselves to “other people’s homes”
There is a famous verse by a Finnish poet: “Kell’ onni on, se onnen kätkekön”. It means: Don’t compare or brag about your happiness.
Finns really keep this in mind and apply this in their lives, especially when it comes to material things and showing off their wealth.
“I once ran into one of the richest men in Finland. He was pushing a stroller for a toddler towards the tram stop. With his wealth, he could have bought himself an expensive car or hired a driver, but he chose public transport,” said Dr. Frank Martela.
That’s success in Finland: Life is like everyone else.
The secret to happiness that researchers have concluded is this: Focus more on what makes you happy, while less attention on how to “look successful”. The first step to achieving true happiness is setting your own standards, rather than comparing yourself to others.
2. They do not ignore the invaluable benefits of mother nature
According to a survey in 2021, 87% of Finns feel that nature is important to them because it gives them peace of mind, energy and relaxation.
In Finland, workers get four weeks of summer vacation. Many people often use that time to set foot in a rural area and immerse themselves in nature. For them, it was a time when using as few modern conveniences as possible, even to the point of no electricity or running water.
Many Finnish cities are also built very “green”, which means that many people have access to nature at their doorstep. Dr. Frank Martela himself lives next to Helsinki Central Park, where he can go for a walk every day.
The secret to happiness that researchers have concluded is this: Spending time in nature will increase our vitality, happiness and give each person a sense of personal development. Find a way to add a little green to your life that will greatly change your mood, even if you just buy a few small beautiful plants to decorate the house.
3. They don’t believe in the community
Research shows that the higher the level of “trust in the community” in a country, the happier its citizens are.
In 2022, a “lost wallet” experiment was conducted silently to test the honesty of people around the world. The unit performing the experiment pretended to drop 192 wallets in 16 cities in many countries. In Helsinki, the capital of Finland, up to 11 out of 12 wallets were returned to their owners.
Finns tend to trust each other and value honesty. If you leave your laptop in the library or lose your phone on the train, you can rest assured that you will get it back.
Children also often ride the public bus home from school and play outside without too much supervision.
The secret to happiness that the researchers concluded is this: Think about how you can build trust in the community around you. How does the community trust you? Can you give trust to those around you? What will you do to help increase community trust?
Sometimes, just a few small actions like opening the door for a stranger or giving up a seat on the train makes all the difference.