The UN’s World Happiness Report 2018 has revealed that Finland is the happiest place on Earth – knocking Norway off the top spot.
The report ranks the level of life satisfaction in 156 countries world wide based on Gallup polls. This year, as expected, the Nordic countries all top the ranking with Finland taking the lead followed closely by Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Sweden comes in at number 9.
Although Finland has a smaller economy, with lower GDP than its Nordic neighbours and many others in the list (including the US at 18 and the UK at 19), this doesn’t seem to dampen Finnish spirits.
”The Finns are very good at converting wealth into wellbeing,” says Meik Wiking, CEO at The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.
Why is Finland so happy? The answer could be their outlook on life – sisu. Sisu is best described as stoicism or guts – it’s about building your resilience so that you can cope with whatever life throws at you.
Joanna Nylund, author of Sisu: The Finnish Art of Courage, says: “People easily disagree about the notion of happiness, confusing it with positivity or some kind of outward attitude, like always smiling at strangers. The Finnish kind of happiness is not the carnival kind, but something firm and quietly steadfast.
“What is important to Finns is the notion of failing or succeeding together – the success of our society is measured by how well we care for its weakest links.
“Finland is happier than other countries, I believe, because we are dedicated to creating a society that we can all be proud of. It’s not perfect by any means, but it remains our shared project, even when there is reason to protest and try to change things. Happiness, to us, means giving everyone the chance to live up to their potential.”
Listen to our latest podcast ‘Finding your inner sisu the Finnish way with Joanna Nylund‘ to discover why Finland is the world’s happiest country.
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The key to Finland’s wellbeing might also be their love of saunas. Amy McPherson embraced nakedness in a Finnish sauna in issue 10 of In The Moment Magazine – out now in the UK.
“In sauna-crazy Finland, where tradition dictates that everyone bares all, the Finns have grown up with the idea of nakedness and embrace it to the full,” says Amy.
“Families, groups of friends and even work colleagues go to saunas together – it is very much a bonding session.”
The world’s happiest countries in 2018 – top 20 list
- New Zealand
- Costa Rica
- United States
- United Kingdom
- United Arab Emirates
Photos by Marie Olin Bolin, Toni Hukkanen and János Lamberg-Liszkay on Unsplash