Finland gives away free trips to travelers who want to learn happiness

Finland has been named the happiest country in the world — again.

The Nordic country topped the “World Happiness Report 2023,” published this week by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which measures factors such as income, mental and physical health and social generosity.

According to the report: “Finland continues to occupy the top spot, for the sixth year in a row, with a score that is significantly ahead of all other countries.”

But there’s no national secret behind Finnish happiness, said Heli Jimenez, senior director at the governmental organization Business Finland.

Rather, it’s “a skill that can be learned,” she said.

To prove this, the country is giving away free trips to Finland for a four-day masterclass in Finnish philosophy and life balance.

A happiness ‘master class’

Finland’s first “Masterclass of Happiness” will be held from June 12 to 15 at the Kuru Resort, a luxury lakeside retreat in southern Finland.

According to Visit Finland, “expert coaches” will cover four themes in four days:

  • nature and lifestyle
  • health and balance
  • design and “every day”
  • food and wellbeing

Nature is a key component of Finland’s “Masterclass of Happiness.”

Aleksi Koskinen | Image Source | Getty Images

The catch?

Only ten people can attend. For those who are chosen, the costs of the class, plus travel expenses, will be covered.

Applications to attend the masterclass are open from now through April 2. Interested travelers need to fill out a form and complete a social media challenge showing why “you may secretly be a Finn.”

Those who are not chosen to attend in person “need not worry,” according to the country’s tourism authority Visit Finland, adding that the masterclass will be available online later this summer.

Why is Finland so happy?

Jimenez said he is often asked why Finns are so happy. For her, it “stems from a close relationship with nature and our down-to-earth lifestyle.”

The Finnish CEO of the customer feedback company HappyOrNot Miika Makitalo agreed.

“We nurture our work-life balance, believe in our society and dedicate time to benefiting from our proximity to nature,” he said.

Finns have a philosophy called ‘sisu’, an amalgamation of perversion, resilience and keeping problems in perspective.

Miika Makitalo

CEO, HappyOrNot

But he also said the concept of “sisu” plays an important role.

“Finns has a philosophy called ‘sisu’, an amalgamation of perversion, resilience and keeping problems in perspective,” he said. “Sisu defines our national character and is as familiar and accepted a concept to Finns as the ‘American Dream’ might be to residents of the USA.”

He said the word has no English equivalent, but it involves pushing one’s own boundaries and approaching looks insurmountable challenges head-on.

“This philosophy certainly underpins our national happiness and sense of purpose,” he said. “It keeps our spirits high.”

Happiness rankings, by country

The United Nation’s “World Happiness Report” ranks countries based on average life evaluation scores from 2020 to 2022. According to the report, life evaluations are based on six main factors: income, physical and mental health, social support, generosity, corruption levels and freedom to live without discrimination.

According to the report, life evaluation averages this year are “remarkably resilient,” with global averages from the past three years similar to those from before the pandemic.

Afghanistan and Lebanon are at the end of the list, however. According to the report, the average life evaluations in both countries are 1.8 and 2.4, respectively, on a scale that runs from 0 to 10.

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