Why Finland is the World’s Happiest Nation?

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Why Finland is the World’s Happiest Nation?

Ahmad Hassan

For six years in a row, Finland has ranked as the happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. The Nordic country and its neighbours – Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway – all score very well on the measures the report uses to explain its findings: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, low corruption and generosity in a community where people look after each other and have freedom to make key life decisions. Since the country has appeared on the top of the list for many years, it is pertinent to know just why Finns are happier than others.

Finland continues to occupy the top spot on the World Happiness Report for the sixth year in a row, with a score that is significantly ahead of all other countries. The report, which is a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, draws on global survey data from people in more than 150 countries which are ranked on happiness based on their average life evaluations over the three preceding years, in this case 2020 to 2022. Since Finland ranks first, second or third in over 100 global measures of economic and social success, it makes one wonder whether the happiness ranking is biased toward a certain philosophy or cultural ideals?
Happiness is regarded as a “skill that can be learned” in Finland, resulting from a close connection to nature and practicality. In addition, the report acknowledges that Finland’s citizens’ mutual support and confidence contributed to more than just their country’s top position.
The Finnish population maintained a strong faith in their right to personal liberty and had little regard for the possibility of government corruption. These two factors have a significant impact on overall satisfaction. Furthermore, due to its peaceful and pure atmosphere, Finland is regarded as a unique and superior nation on a global scale. Transportation options are available to both residents and tourists in Finland, which contributes to the relaxed atmosphere of the country.
Now let’s discuss the Finnish educational system. First, it teaches children the basics. Education is the most crucial factor that can create or break a nation. Without a doubt, Finland’s education system boosts the country’s standard of living.
Finnish government and society both honor their respective obligations. Consequently, corruption and violence are rare. When there is no corruption and no violence, a country becomes a safer place to reside. The government also maintains a pleasant environment and clean workplaces.
Finland is one of the safest countries on the globe. Nokia is one of Finland’s most successful prominent companies. A mobile phone manufacturer is currently developing its smartphones and Android devices. However, foreign trade is the primary economic motor in Finland. Now, let’s discuss the role of culture:
In 2021, it was suggested by a sociology professor that simply by having more reasonable expectations, people in Nordic countries appeared to be happier. However, that cannot explain why Finland is so very different from Norway on the happiness scale. All kinds of explanations are possible, including slight nuances of language as well as culture.
There is no doubt that our cultural context shapes how we think about happiness. For example, satisfaction with life is a very individually focussed way of evaluating happiness; the question is about you and your own experience, and likely makes sense to people from individualistic cultures. Individualistic cultures like that of Finland and other Scandinavian countries tend to think of happiness as an experience of excitement and fun. “Sisu” is a concept and way of living that has been interwoven into Finnish culture for more than 500 years. It has no direct translation, but it is focused on determination and fortitude. It’s about having the grit to push forward in the face of adversity and near-impossible odds.
it is very likely that Finland having more equitable schools, where you are likely to get a good education whichever you choose, as well as a fairer school policy than Norway (almost all Finns go to their nearest school) might actually matter too. So too, a better housing policy with a wide variety of social housing and lower homelessness, a health service with waiting times that are the envy of the world – sometimes just being a matter of days (even during the worst years of the pandemic) – and numerous other accolades.
In other countries, the cultural orientation to happiness is more value-based and relationship-oriented, focussed on communal harmony and social interdependence. In other words, happiness there is not constrained to the individual but comes from shared experiences. People in collectivist cultures would typically rate their happiness highly only if other people around them were also happy.
Jeffrey Sachs, co-author of the WHR, at the launch ceremony of the Report, said, “Virtue, ethics and happiness in our ancient traditions of Plato and Aristotle or Christianity or Buddhism or Hinduism or other great ancient wisdom, went hand-in-hand with the idea that to be happy was a skill that one developed by being a good person.
Aristotle explained that being a good person meant being good to oneself and to others. We forgot a lot of that in modern history. The ancient tradition was brushed aside by some bad philosophy of Hobbs and others, who said, people are evil, nasty, ruthlessly ambitious, insatiable in demands and it’s all a game of power or wealth …”
Hobbes’ model said you need a leviathan, an all-powerful government. Later writers like Machiavelli in this tradition talked about profit maximisation. It was all about maximisation and not about moderation and friendship, the skill of being a good citizen. And so modern philosophy turned away from the issue of personal and social virtues and moved towards how to tame the bad instincts of people who were pretty incorrigible.
So what can the people of a country do if they want to be happier? The most important thing is to elect governments that will ensure the country becomes more equal by income. After that, ensuring your social services – school, housing and healthcare – are efficient and equitable matters most.

The writer is a student at PU, Lahore.

Muhammad Ali Asghar

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