The secrets of the happiest country in the world revealed: sauna, coffee and death metal


Happy people: Finland’s representatives Lordi celebrate after winning the Eurovision Song Contest final, 2006. Photo/Getty Images

Over the past decade, one country in particular has topped the World Happiness Report, and it might surprise you where it ranks.

It’s far from the richest or anywhere that could be called a sunny destination.

Still, after a fifth consecutive year at number one, Finland has something to brag about.

According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, some parts of the country only see 1300 hours of daylight per year. But that doesn’t seem to spoil the sunny disposition of those in eastern Lapland.

There must be something else at play, researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta concluded.

“Finland continues to hold first place, scoring significantly higher than other top ten countries,” the report said, adding five Nordic countries with Denmark in second place, followed by Iceland in third.

Eight of the 10 happiest countries were in Europe, with Israel and New Zealand completing ninth and tenth places.

The study also showed that there was an internal division of happiness by place of birth. Expats, on average, scored 0.2 lower in the Happiness Index than native-born residents. However, this tax on homesickness has been more than offset in most northern European countries.

“In Finland and in the Nordic countries, people are really lucky because society always supports a system that cushions these kinds of shocks,” Anu Partanen, author of The Nordic Theory of Everything, told AP, summing up the bonhomie general of the region. In particular, it has helped cushion societies during the pandemic, with a robust public health response.

The Scandinavians from Helsinki to Kilpisjärvi in ​​the North were the clear leaders of the pack.

So what can Finland tell us about happiness?

Three million saunas can’t be wrong.

Coffee makes Finns happier

Finns consume an incredible 12 kilograms of coffee per capita, making them one of the most caffeinated populations in the world.

While consumption fell slightly in 2021, a recent study from Harvard University concluded that coffee consumption can reduce depression by up to a third.

Although caffeine addiction can lead to mood swings and low moods, it is speculated that WHRs caught their Finnish respondents while freshly caffeinated.

Helsinki is famous for its cafe scene. Head to El Fant around the corner from Helsingin Tuomiokirkko Cathedral for a cup of tea and Mustikkapiirakka blueberry pie. Instant mood enhancer.

Let off steam in a Sauna

Sauna – the national pastime of hanging out in heated cabins – is a Finnish rite of passage.

Birch heated steam cabins have been proven to induce a feeling of “euphoria” which aids circulation and is believed to have a variety of health benefits including improved circulation and cognitive performance.

A sauna that goes against the trend and perhaps makes you less healthy for the visit is in a Finnish fast food restaurant.

In Helsinki, the local branch of Burger King on Mannerheimintie Street even has a seated sauna for dinner parties. Customers can pay €300 to schwitz amid steamed pickles and meaty sweats from other visitors. I’m not sure that sounds like a blissful experience. But who am I to dispute the world ranking of happiness?

Lighten your spirits with heavy metal

Finland has long considered itself the spiritual home of death metal. With 7 metal bands per 10,000 people, there are more rockers per capita than anywhere else on earth.

While the genre may sound like power tools and torture to the untrained ear, metal is huge in Finland.

Finnish band Lordi wowed the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 with their ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’, a surprise hit that made a comeback at this year’s contest.

A separate study at Macquarie University in Sydney showed that metal music comes with a range of complex emotions. Although there is an “outside mentality” to metal music, the study showed that listening to this desperately dark music can help foster feelings of “belonging”, nostalgia and healing from the soul. sadness. Perfect for a particularly hard break.

“Listeners experience empowerment, joy, transcendence and peace when listening to this kind of music,” Professor Bill Thompson told Deutsche Welle.

Singer Ida-Katharina Kiljander says there’s something about the genre that unites Finns.

“The reason why heavy metal might reflect the Finnish mentality is probably because we’re so private that it’s hard to discuss our feelings,” she told Finnish culture blog Finland Stories.

This partly explains the country’s stellar happiness rankings, that even misery can strike a unifying chord. But stay…

Are you sure you’re okay, Finland?

Now in its 10th year, the World Happiness Report has tracked the satisfaction of residents of more than 140 countries. With approximately 1,000 respondents from each country, they were asked to rate the positive and negative aspects of their lives, forming a “utopian/dystopian score” which was then added to scores ranking nations on six main factors:

GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity and corruption.

Although money cannot buy happiness, it is normally a good predictor of a population’s satisfaction. But not always.

Japan’s enviable GDP per capita of 1.84, bountiful health and social support did not prevent it from dropping to 54th on the table.

Similarly, Lebanon, whose population enjoys a long healthy life expectancy and relative wealth, fell to 145th place from 102 in 2015. Lebanese self-rated their happiness with a dystopian score of 0.2, following a large-scale political collapse and a difficult pandemic.

The 20 happiest places on earth

1 Finland
2 Denmark
3 Iceland
4 Switzerland
5 Netherlands
6 Luxemburg
7 Sweden
8 Norway
9 Israel
10 New Zealand
11 Austria
12 Australia
13 Ireland
14 Germany
15 Canada
16 United States
17 United Kingdom
18 Czechia
19 Belgium
20 France
Source: world happiness report


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