The Happiest Country In The World?

Talking about Finnishness, we always mention beautiful nature, the sauna, the silence of the surroundings and the people, terrible weather, cross-country skiing, sisu, humble and hard-working people.

Instead, I would like to talk about our current government, nationalism, racism, increasing numbers of violence by underaged people, lower learning outcomes, poverty, income differences, adolescent depression, and alcoholism as a national disease. 


I have a Latin American friend living in Helsinki, married to a Finnish woman. I have had interesting conversations with him about what it’s like to be a foreigner in our society. These conversations have been eye-opening. He was traveling regularly from Helsinki to Tallinn, every week several times. Yet, every single time, month after month, he was stopped for an interview at customs – only because he looked different. He told me what it’s like to be a presumed suspect in all kinds of situations – no matter how peace-loving and nice a person he is and wouldn’t harm a fly. 


We Finns think our society is the best place to be; we say it’s like winning a lottery to be born in Finland, which might be true – for us. But my Latin American friend said he wouldn’t raise his dark-haired children here in Finland, in our closed and xenophobic society. 


Year after year, for the sixth time in a row, Finland is the happiest country in the world, according to The World Happiness Report 2023. According to Ilona Suojanen, a researcher and “happyologist” at the Ministry of the Interior, part of the happiness here in Finland derives from a strong trust in authority and in fellow human beings


That may well be true – but I’m looking forward to a time when this happiness and this trust can be equally felt by everyone in this country, regardless of the colour of their skin or their beliefs. 


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


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