Are the residents of the “Happiest Town” unhappy?

In the Finnish town of Kauniainen, tourist Jan Matlin had a bad day.

He drove to the town’s railway station and found that there was nowhere to park. He was a little dissatisfied with this, called the local newspaper and suggested that the other party write a report about insufficient parking spaces.

Matlin originally wanted to complain, but to his surprise, the newspaper editor really wrote an article about it and put it on the front page.

“We really rarely encountered any problems there.” Matlin recalled. “Perhaps they really didn’t have much news to write about.”

In April 2018, after a public opinion survey, Finland stood out from 156 candidate countries and was voted the happiest country in the world by the United Nations. In 2017, it was ranked fifth.

Immediately afterwards, another survey showed that more than 9,600 residents of Kauniainen were selected as the happiest group in Finland. In this regard, the mayor Christopher Massa joked that Finland is the happiest in the world Country, then Kauniainen is “the happiest town in the world”.

Happy confusion
The residents of Kauniainen seem to be a little confused about the title of “the happiest town”.

Professor Frank Matra studied social welfare at the University of Helsinki. He grew up in a town near Kauniainen. “My confusion with the word’happiness,’ is that when we talk about happiness, we never know what we are talking about.” He said, “It may mean being satisfied with life or being in a good mood every day. But It’s a bit ambiguous.”

If we use the standard of “satisfaction with life” to measure happiness, Kauniainen must be the best performer in the world. This small town with an area of ​​only 6 square kilometers, a total population of less than 10,000, and only one late-night bar, has rich social resources that most cities cannot match.

In terms of leisure and entertainment, it has more than 100 sports and cultural clubs, all funded by the local council. At an average price of less than one dollar per hour, people can sign up for a variety of courses and activities in the local “adult education center” at any time, such as Swedish language clubs, ski clubs, and music schools.

The local education system is not only in a leading position in the world, but the cost of education is also very low-university education is completely free, and the price of childcare is within the affordable range of residents. In addition, Kauniainen also provides residents with a cheap universal healthcare system.

If we really want to say that there are any lack of social resources in this place, it can only be the police station-because the crime rate is extremely low, the police station becomes unnecessary.

Of course, in order to cover the cost behind the high welfare, Finns may have to pay twice the tax to the government than Americans with the same income.

“For me, happiness means basic life satisfaction and life full of possibilities.” said Finn Berg, the former speaker of the Kauniainen Town Council. “If you measure it by this standard, then Kauniainen is indeed a A happy place because it offers many possibilities for residents.”

Unhappy Finn
However, if happiness is measured by the “good mood” standard mentioned by Matra, the residents of Kauniainen, and even the entire Finnish citizen, may not have that right to say so. According to the survey, in 2018, Finland’s suicide rate ranked 23rd among 176 countries in the world.

This is why, when Finland was named “the happiest country in the world”, the first reaction of many Finns was not to be happy, but rather puzzled, and even a little unhappy. On social media, Finns laugh at themselves under the label of “the happiest country”, talking about the country’s high suicide rate and the deliberate sense of distance between people.

As for why Finns are unhappy, short days and long nights are one of the important reasons. Located in northern Europe, Finland has long winters, and the endless cold and darkness make people feel gloomy.

“If Finns tell you that they are unhappy, I understand. They are pessimistic by nature, emotionally restrained, often drink alcohol, and have a bit of melancholy in their lives. In addition, the Finnish winter is very cold, which makes people suffer. If happiness is you For the understanding of happiness, Finns are not the happiest.” Finnish writer Anu Patanen explained, “But happiness research focuses on the quality of life, so Finland will stand out.”

Obviously, the Happiness Nation Selection is not a study based on emotion or mood. It pays more attention to the visible and digitized quality of life of residents in various countries.

“After the ranking was released, everyone said, do you want to live a happy life? Go to Finland!” Professor John Halliwell of the University of British Columbia in Canada is one of the editors of the World Happiness Report. He said, “But The deeper significance of these studies is that we need to think about where Finns do well and what we should learn from them.”