Finland just got named the world's happiest country for the third year running. In light of the current Covid-19 crisis, is there anything that can be gleaned for the rest of us? What do 5.5 million Finns know that the rest of us don't?
A lot, it turns out.
The World Happiness Reports ranks countries according to six variables: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.
One takeaway from the report is that Finns have more generosity and social support than many countries. And, those factors make its citizens more resilient to disasters.
High-trust societies are more resilient
Finland scores very high on trust. "Trust in other people has been linked to citizen happiness," the report's authors explain. People trust each other, and they trust their government during trying times. Having these strong social bonds helps Finns develop a sense of community. Theirs is not an individualistic or every-man-for-himself culture.
"High levels of social trust also seem to make people's well-being more resilient to various national crises," explains the report.
All unforeseen disasters will have some form of financial, economic, material, or health costs. Studies from previous crises such as earthquakes and tsunamis have found that high-trust societies tend to come together as a community to rebuild. Sometimes, those communities actually see an increase in happiness after a crisis -- despite the losses.
The benefits of a strong social fabric
When a community has a strong social fabric, they find ways to support each other during difficult times. If a country's social fabric is weak, then they risk being further crippled by an unforeseen disaster. People prioritize an individualistic mindset, looking out only for themselves.
The takeaway from the World Happiness Report is straightforward and clear. Taking care of each other is critical. Take a page out of the Finn's playbook, and look for opportunities to help those around you.
"Countries and communities that react according to this advice will be the ones whose happiness is best sustained," the report's authors urged.