Finland is the World's Happiest Country in 2019

The Finns make the most of this opportunity with the Rent-A-Finn initiative.

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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 happiness. 

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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: 

  1. Finland 
  2. Denmark 
  3. Norway 
  4. Iceland 
  5. Netherlands 
  6. Switzerland 
  7. Sweden 
  8. New Zealand 
  9. Canada 
  10. Austria

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Images courtesy: (featured image); Visit Finland


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