Finns are the happiest people in the world – Kelly from Colombia thinks she knows why!
For six consecutive years, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world. We journeyed to Helsinki to try to find out why...
In 2023, Finland was named the world's happiest country by The World Happiness Report.
This marks the sixth consecutive year that the Nordic nation has topped the list.
Many people are curious about what makes the Finns so happy.
"You could say I am familiar with Finland both before and after they started topping these rankings," says Kelly Brito with a smile.
Her Own Theory on Happy Finns
Originally from Colombia, she has been living in the Finnish capital since 2016. Her first visit to the country was back in 2012, as an exchange student. After seven years in the country, she has her own theory about why Finland continues to top these rankings year after year.
"That's an interesting question. Every time these rankings come out and the media writes about it, people in Finland laugh. I'm not actually sure if Finns see themselves as the happiest people in the world. If you use the word 'content', however, I think more people would agree with the ranking. But 'content' is such a dull word compared to 'happy'. It doesn't exactly make headlines," she laughs.
Safety is Key
Kelly has noticed one particular aspect that sets Finland apart from her homeland.
"One of the things I appreciate most after living in Helsinki for seven years is the general feeling of safety. Of course, things can happen here as well, but the worries you might experience in countries like Colombia or similar places in the world, are simply not present. People leave their doors unlocked and leave their phones on the table at the café when they go to the restroom. Such things are unheard of in many parts of the world," Kelly observes.
"And when these worries are gone, just think of all the other things you can use your brain capacity, time, and energy on," she adds enthusiastically.
Knew Nothing About Finland
The Colombian herself knew little about happiness rankings when she first boarded the plane in 2011. Kelly admits that arriving in the Finnish capital was a culture shock.
"That's perhaps no surprise," she laughs.
"The La Guajira region where I'm from is primarily a desert. There, temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius are not uncommon, so just the weather has been a significant change," she adds.
Kelly works at the University of Helsinki and speaks basic Finnish. As a Colombian, there is at least one thing she has learned to greatly appreciate about living in the country.
"The coffee here is heavenly. Finland probably has the highest intake of coffee per capita, just behind Norway, and as a Colombian, there are few other things that make me happier than a good cup of coffee."
What Kelly Has Learned After Seven Years in Helsinki
After seven years in the country, she has found that several myths she was told upon arrival do not align with her own experiences. Among them is the generalisation that Finns are introverted and shy.
"Since Finns don't have as expressive a communication style to show their emotions, it can sometimes be hard to read them. But if you get to know a Finn well, you have a friend for life," she believes.
"Also, I feel that Finns are more direct and honest. You learn a lot about the person. There is little small talk, but honest conversations. I've learned to appreciate that," says Kelly.
When asked by Strawberry what she has learned after so many years in the country, we get a decisive answer.
"Queuing. I don't know if it's a Nordic thing, but people love a good queue in Finland. Respect the queue," she laughs.