Happy people don’t feel a need to hate or discriminate others

Since Finland was listed as the happiest nation on earth on UN’s World Happiness Report 2018, happiness was one of the leading themes of the Finnish 101th Independence Day celebrations on the 6th of December. Dr. Ilona Suojanen, happyologist and researcher at CESAM, was invited to a live TV program called Kohti linnan juhlia, hosted by Yle, the national broadcasting company of Finland, to discuss her research on happiness.

The covered topics were mainly about happiness of Finnish citizens, and Ilona Suojanen, together with happiness philosopher Dr Frank Martela from University of Helsinki, were questioned how happy people really are and what are the aspects influencing their happiness. Suojanen reported the findings of her research on happiness enablers including: meaningfulness in life and at work; good connections with other people, being seen and heard; and the feeling of having some kind of control over one’s life. 

Since Ilona has lived abroad for several years, she was asked how happy Finnish people seem to her. She commented that although Finns have typically had a reputation of dealing with their problems quietly by themselves, there is a new kind of openness and culture of discussion, even on somewhat heavier topics, which can be seen as a happiness habit. She, however, also raised concerns of the recent increase of racism in Finland, referring to unhappiness, as happy people don’t feel a need to hate or to discriminate others: they are happy in their own lives and want happiness for others as well.

 “Who has happiness, should hide it from others” goes old Finnish saying. Ilona disagreed with it and referred to studies which have shown that not only happiness increases when shared, but by sharing we also create trust, greater sense of belonging and stronger positive relationships, which all in turn increase happiness.