Finland invites you for a free masterclass in happiness

Originally published at: Finland invites you for a free masterclass in happiness | Boing Boing

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In two words, social democracy. There’s a reason that European countries, Australia, Canada, and similar places all rank so much higher than the US and it isn’t a mystery.

You’re happier when you don’t have to worry about paying for healthcare.
You’re happier when your regulators aren’t fully captured by industry.
You’re happier when all sides of government are functional and debating policy, rather than one side trying to burn everything to the ground.
You’re happier when women have reproductive rights.
You’re happier when minorities are protected throughout the country.
You’re happier when there are social safety nets for drug abuse, poverty, mental health, and unemployment.
You’re happier when police are modest in number and not trying to beat you to death.
You’re happier when government institutions are well functioning and working to improve things at the national, regional, and civic levels.
You’re happier if the government is working to solve big problems like climate change.

It’s not about saunas and meditation or whatever (though those things are nice too). It’s about a society that functions for its people.

This is not to say all the countries I listed above do all these things perfectly, but the more of them you can check off the list, the happier everyone will be. The US seems to believe that only wealth makes you happy even if you’re sitting on that wealth in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.


Well said. Amazing what happens to baseline societal happiness when a nation-state actually aspires to fulfill the foundations of Maslow’s pyramid for all of its citizens.

I hope that Finland uses this free course as a stealth marketing campaign for social democracy.

That’s what wellness grifters peddle as “happiness”. They are indeed nice – if you can afford them.


In Finland, which has the highest estimated incidence of mental disorders in the EU, close to 1 in 5 are affected.

They seem to be privatizing everything.


Yeah, I am very skeptical about these happiness ratings. There are so many cultural differences around happiness that I’m not sure how they can be comparable between countries at all.

I have long suspected that the high ranking of the Nordic countries has more to do with how you’re expected to measure success in life there than with actual day to day happiness, whatever that may be.


They are looking for “outgoing people”; isn’t “outgoing” and Finnish an oxymoron?


“We are looking for outgoing people…”

Well, hell, always chasing off us introverts! :wink:


I know! I thought that they’d be trying to entice introverts!


The whole getaway vacation sounds like ideology in its purest form, repackaging the social safety net in self-help terms.

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See the part where I said, “not every country is perfect at these things”.

The point is that they’re trying. The US has given up on its people.

You’re betraying your lack of understanding as to how private entities play a role in a social democracy. Doctors’ offices in British Columbia, for example, are private businesses. They don’t work for the government. However the public healthcare system regulates most aspects of what services they provide, how much they can charge, etc. All payment comes from the single payer insurance, but the doctor is a private business. You would not look at this and say “they privatized medicine”. There’s much more nuance than that in all the social safety nets.

Also, trying to tear down Finland and portray it as a bad country with a couple of random examples that you think make your point is pretty hilarious. It’s a fantastic country that most of the world could learn a lot from (including Canada). Give your Google a rest and accept that other places might be better at things than your place.


That is one of the key supports to Finland’s low rate of recidivism.

This from Harvard Political Review: Recidivism [in the US] clogs the criminal justice system. Without employment opportunities and bare necessities such as housing, food, or clothing, successful reentry into society seems nearly impossible for former prisoners.


Not locking people up in the first place is a big factor too. Sending people to prison pretty much ends their life in most cases. It’s a nearly impossible thing to come back from emotionally, socially, and economically.

Finland’s incarceration rate is 51 per 100k people, compared to the US at 505(!). Canada is sitting at about 104 which is not great, although hilariously one of the country’s largest prisons is so empty that they’re asking for help from the government for it. :smile: It’s not clear what they’re asking the government to do exactly. Arrest more people?

BC recently decriminalized all hard drugs, which is going to drive down the prison population a lot (yay!).


Yeah, really - my first reaction to this was, “Is step One of the masterclass, ‘get your government to pass laws benefiting the welfare of its people’?” I mean, sure, there are strategies to make one happier, but they’re highly secondary to (or completely dependent on) having a functional government, which the US doesn’t have.

From previous studies I’ve seen, it’s sort of the opposite. In the US, traditionally being unhappy was seen as a personal failure (“life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” seen as a personal mission statement), to which people were unlikely to admit, but we have high incidents of violent deaths (murders and accidents), high socioeconomic inequality, and being poor here is unusually awful and there are a lot of things that can send you spiraling into a lifetime of poverty (e.g. a serious illness, being born poor - US social mobility is quite bad, etc.). Countries with functioning social safety nets (and which aren’t designed around having to have a lot of personal expenses, i.e. cars, etc. to live) have a higher baseline happiness. On top of that you have cultural differences, but not living a highly precarious life that can tip you into hell at any moment tends to make people “happier.”


Uhm, you know that @vermes82 is Finnish, right?


Ideology? How so?

It just sounds to me like rank self-indulgence.


Sounds like a tourist board playing off stereotypes to attract influencers


Happiness requires paying taxes for public services in a society that values cooperation, shared responsibilities and seeing that everyone is taken care of, ideas contrary to the MAGA every man for himself ideology. MAGA :white_flag: :ru: is mostly negativity, fear, hate. Despite that America’s at #15 in happiness. I feel it in my blue city in my blue county in my blue state :grinning:
Just avoid unhappy people and choose to be as happy as you can. We really have it pretty good here :us:

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That’s how I view it. They are cutting public services and moving them to the private sector.

Like going to the dentist if it’s not a absolute emergency either I get a coupon that won’t cover my costs for private dentist or wait for months for a public dentist. Public dentist isn’t free either but much more affordable.

A lot of Finnish politicians are heavily invested and have moved to work for these private health service companies.

So how many do I need to but here? I see this country going down the neoliberal route slowly destroying the welfare state. All politics around here seem to be sliding to the right.