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Finland has been named the world's
happiest country in the latest edition of the World Happiness Report, released
to coincide with International World Happiness Day March 20, 2019.
It's the second year
in a row that Finland has topped the ranking, which is once again dominated by
Western, Nordic and Scandinavian countries: rounding out the podium are
Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands.
The World Happiness Report 2019
published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions
Network, ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to
be. This year, Finns reported the highest rates of life satisfaction and
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Researchers note that
the top-performing countries on the index tend to score high in key variables
for well-being: income, life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and
generosity. Alongside the country ranking, the report also focuses on how
the notion of happiness has changed over the last decade with the evolution of
technologies, social norms, conflicts and government policies.
“The world is a
rapidly changing place,” said co-editor John Helliwell in a statement. “How
communities interact with each other whether in schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods
or on social media has profound effects on world happiness.”
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Rent a Finn
Following the top ranking, Finland has launched what is best described
as a summer internship that will teach tourists the secrets to their happiness.
They’ve initiated the ‘Rent a Finn’ program, where ordinary Finns are paired
with tourists to add serenity and happiness in the lives of tired,
harried, and stressed-out visitors.
For three days this
summer, select candidates will travel to remote, quiet patches of Finland's
wilderness where they'll forage for wild berries and mushrooms, build
fireplaces, roast sausages over open flames, and dip into a traditional Finnish
sauna with their local Finnish hosts, also known as Happiness Guides.
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Ask the Finns the
secret to their happiness, “Our secret is in our nature, very literally. When
others go to therapy, Finns put on a pair of rubber boots and head to the
woods,” reads the promotional material for the campaign.
To be selected for
the free three-day trip, applicants are asked to film a short video about why
they want to visit Finland. Contest closes April 14, 2019
and the trip is for June – August 2019.
The Rent a Finn
concept is not new. In 2011, Iceland popularised the concept of pairing tourists
with locals by encouraging Icelanders to open their homes to visitors. The
campaign was led by the country's president himself. In 2016, Sweden became the
first country in the world to launch an open phone line connecting callers with
random Swedes. Callers could ask locals for restaurant recommendations, tourist activities, or just shoot the breeze.
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Negative Emotions in Asia and Africa
Unfortunately, India is positioned at 140 in the World Happiness Report 2019. The country has
dropped seven spots and is now behind Pakistan, China and Bangladesh positioned
at 67, 93 and 125 positions, respectively. Bhutan and Sri Lanka also have a
better position on this index.
Using India as an example where happiness levels
continue to trend downwards, researchers link population growth to falling
world happiness rates. An upward trend in negative emotions like “worry,
sadness and anger” are noted to be particularly high in Asia and Africa.
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The report also
features chapters exploring the connection between increased screen time and
use of digital media among US teens to increased anxiety and declining rates of
happiness, as well as addiction and unhappiness in America.
The US ranks
19th on the list. “This year's report provides sobering evidence of
how addictions are causing considerable unhappiness and depression in the US,”said
chapter author Jeffrey Sachs.
“Addictions come in many forms, from substance abuse
to gambling and digital media. The compulsive pursuit of substance abuse and
addictive behaviours is causing severe unhappiness. Government, business, and
communities should use these indicators to set new policies aimed at overcoming
these sources of unhappiness.”
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Here are the world's 10
happiest countries 2019:
- New Zealand
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Images courtesy: iStock.com (featured image); Visit Finland