The results are in. According to the UN World Happiness Report, the Finns have us all beat. Never mind that Finland is one of the northernmost countries in the world, plunged into soul-sucking darkness for the majority of the day in winter months and burdened with some of the highest taxes in the world.
Apparently things like income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, and generosity trump weather and taxes.
I live in the north. My city? Currently under snowfall warning number 37 million this winter. If I see one more fluffy flake, I’m going to lose my freaking mind.
Want to know where I’d be happiest? On a beach. Sipping an endless supply of margaritas.
Instead, I’m driving on roads suffering an identity crisis, thinking they’d rather be ice rinks, and I have a snow bank the size of my house in my front yard. I am slowly dying a long and painful death on the Whole 30 Diet because my body has been in hibernation mode, eating everything in sight for the past 5 months, and if I don’t stop eating family-size chocolate bars and drinking copious amounts of mochaccinos in a desperate attempt to keep warm, I’m going to suffer a sugar-induced coma and OMG will this winter never end?
The thought of moving to another snow-covered winter wasteland, even if it’s home to the happiest people on earth? Not so appealing right now.
The World Happiness Report “is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness.” It “ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants.”
The top four countries? They’re all Nordic nations. Finland was followed by Norway in second, Denmark in third, and Iceland in fourth.
The United States? Slipped five spots to 18th place due to the increasing prevalence of “obesity, substance abuse and depression,” which are “growing faster and further than in most other countries.”
It could be worse. The unhappiest country in the world? Burundi, in East Africa. According to ABS-CBN News, its leader, President Pierre Nkurunziza, “changed his title from ‘eternal supreme guide’ to ‘visionary’ this week.” So there’s that.
While the UN World Happiness Survey focused on the numbers to determine happiness, the top ranking countries tend to focus more on feelings.
Denmark has long been known as one of the happiest countries in the world, thanks to the Danish ritual of hygge. Haven’t embraced getting hygge with it yet? According to Cambridge Dictionary, it’s simply a matter of finding coziness in everyday life. “A Danish word for a quality of coziness — feeling warm, comfortable, and safe — that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.”
But Finland clearly has Denmark beat. Their answer to happiness? Kalsarikännit. Don’t try to say it. Just feel it. According to the This Is Finland website, it’s defined as “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear – with no intention of going out.”
And there it is. Living well is not about money, or weather, or stability. Nope. It’s all about not wearing pants.
I knew it.