Welcome to the happiness blog. In case you are visiting for the first time, please do not forget to follow. Each post on this blog has a single objective- to make your everyday life happier.
We speak about individual happiness regularly on this blog. This is the purpose of this blog- to help everyone be happier and find their happiness.
In this post, we want to understand what makes countries happier. After all, countries can only be happier when their citizens are happier. However, clearly, there is a micro and a macro level to happiness.
Individuals can do so much about their happiness. There are macro factors at play as well. Therefore, there is luck involved here. Where you are born and the country of your residence has a big, if not massive impact on how much happiness you experience on a daily basis. The macro environment depends on the size of the country, population and the governance.
Let us try to understand in detail what makes countries happy. As per the world happiness report, Finland is the happiest country in the world, and that’s perhaps one of the reason I see a lot of readers of this blog from Finland every day. They are happy and they want to be happier. India, the country I live in is in the bottom 10, 144th in a list of 153 countries. I know what we are doing wrong, but that’s for another piece. Secondly, I am not in the government.
What makes Finland the happiest country in the world? We are told this is the third time in a row that they have ranked at number 1. Surely, there must be something that they are doing right.
There are several factors that the report considers in ranking countries on happiness- life expectancy, social support, health, freedom, perceived corruption, generosity, inequality being some of them.
That means there is a lot that governments can do to ensure the happiness of their citizens. As per an article on the subject on Forbes, Finland has extensive welfare benefits, low levels of corruption, well-functioning democracy, and sense of freedom and autonomy. Its progressive taxation and wealth distribution has allowed for a flourishing universal healthcare system, and, staggeringly, more than 80% of Finns trust their police force, which is far more than many other countries can claim.
Now, welfare benefits in the form of education and health play a massive role psychologically in the contribution to happiness. When we know that we are taken care of for basic needs like health and education, we wouldn’t need to worry about huge medical bills and literacy. Education ought to be a basic right of every citizen around the world. Unfortunately, illiteracy continues to mar the developing world, where large swathes of population are illiterate. Not just that, millions of students drop out of school every year.
80% of Finns trusting their police force is a glaring statistic in a world where police force is perceived as enemies than friends. In India, in a recent rape case, the police was accused to hush up the case by burning the body of the victim overnight.
Let us look at what else do the Finns do to keep their happiness levels highest in the world?
Finland is not only performing well on social measures but doing well economically. The company which dominated the global mobile phone market for over a decade, Nokia, was born in Finland.
The Finnish education system is considered the best in the world and there is no tuition fees. Education is regarded as a fundamental right and the Finnish education policy emphasizes equal opportunities for all. All Finnish universities are publicly funded making education absolutely free for the citizens.
The Finnish people believe in a concept called Sisu, which as per BBC, is the Finnish art of inner strength. What does Sisu mean to the Finnish?
Although Sisu may not have a direct translation to English, to the Finnish, it means strength, perseverance and tenacity in the face of adversity. In common parlance, Sisu could mean guts. It is the second wind of inner strength when one thinks there is nothing left. It is an idea on which one could devote an entire piece writing about and lifetime understanding about.
Even in the work culture, Finland has a flexibility enjoyed by a few. Flexible working is seen as a right in Finland while it is seen as a perk in many countries. In the post corona virus world, companies around the world are allowing their employees to work from home with flexible working hours. In Finland, 92% companies allow workers to adapt their working hours ever since the Working Hours act was passed in 1996. Also, as per the same article, nothing happens in July in Finland since everyone is in their summer cottages. That’s the definition of cool.
To recapitulate, Finland has universal education and healthcare. The universities and the healthcare system is publicly funded. The work culture is flat and allows the employees to alter their working hours. Nobody works in July. The social milieu is supportive of each other. People are encouraged to help their neighbors. It is a highly cooperative society. On the top of everything, Sisu keeps the culture intact, while reminding them of their history.
I will be honest. When I started researching for this piece, I thought that the results would be vague and not quite clear about what makes a country or countries happier. However, what Finland has achieved as a country is tangible and more importantly, beautiful. It is a model for world happiness.
Finland is a model country for the rest of the world to emulate, if we are to create a happy world. If Finland sounds heaven to you, perhaps, it is. They experience the kind of happiness that the world craves for, at least most of the world. If you are a Finn reading this, congratulations. You must feel happy for belonging for such beautiful a nation.
For the rest of us, there is still a long way to go to create happiness for everyone in the countries we belong to. However, Finland is a great reference point.
I would also write another piece on the Gross National Happiness of Bhutan. I am sure there is a lot of learn to learn from them as well.
Thank you for reading.
The purpose of this blog to help you find your happiness. Please read the other posts on the blog, and follow so that you get updates when new posts are published. Please share any posts you like with your friends so that they can also find their happiness. If you have any feedback for me, please leave it in the comments and I would be happy to work on it. If you would like to support my writing and this blog, you may please send a donation through PayPal here.
I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.
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