Cartoon on why finland is the world's happiest country

“Finland ranked the happiest country in the world – again” reports the BBC and other media around the world. But what lies behind this statement? Are Finns really happy? And if so, why are they happy?

I drew a cartoon summary of an event titled Finntopia – British perspectives on the world’s happiest country¬† (organised by the Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland). The event itself was inspired by a book by professor Danny Dorling and Annika Koljonen: Finntopia – what can we learn from the world’s happiest country.

Check out the cartoon summary here.

It’s contentment – not Hollywood happiness

One key thing that most comments seem to get wrong is that happiness in the research does not refer to Hollywood happiness where you are “ecstatically happy”. It refers to contentment. And that’s what happiness in Finland is about. You can view it as lowering your expectations or you can view it as appreciating that things are pretty ok.

content vs happiness cartoon

Note to non-Finns: Finns like to criticise Finland. You might hear counter arguments like “we have long winters”, “there’s depression”, and of course “it’s all going downhill now”. Professor Danny Dorling has a good comment on the latter in the visual summary. It’s worth bearing in mind that in Finnish culture bragging and tooting your own horn is considered a faux pas.¬† That, according to some, make Finns lousy marketers.


PS. I’ve done visual summaries of all the Finnish Institute online events so far. The focus has mainly been on arts and culture and social innovation. A key thread has been the challenges (and opportunities) brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are interested in the other summaries you can find last year’s (2020) summaries in this handy booklet (pdf).