Who Are the Happiest People in the World?

And what can we learn from them about unhappiness?

Carlyn Beccia
5 min readApr 5, 2022


Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Well, Finland, you won again. For the fifth year in a row, The World Happiness Report found the Finns are the happiest people in the world.

What is Finland’s secret? How could a country known for its bleak cold winters, long days of darkness, and questionable fashion taste have the happiest people in the world? Is it because they adopted a fictitious perpetually jolly character, gave him a wild back story, a flying sled, bionic reindeer, and a home? (I kid you not. Santa officially lives in Finland.)

As usual (ah hmmm), I have a theory. The Finns are so god damn happy because they don’t brag about their happiness. They know such boasts will distract others from being happy. A common Finnish saying is, “Kell’ onni on se onnen kätkeköön.” It translates as “He who has happiness should hide it.” (I am looking at you, writers of success porn.)

The Finns don’t play the envy game. Not only do the Finns hide their bliss, but they also don’t dissect it. No one in Finland cares that they won the happiness contest yet again. To the Finns, happiness is undefinable.

In other words, happiness is not a pursuit. It is a state of being. The Finns no more dwell on their happiness than they would a weather report predicting rain. Sure, they take precautions and grab an umbrella, but the Finns embrace one irrefutable reality — storms pass.

But while the Finns are not worrying about happiness, plenty of research dollars (mostly American) have been spent on the subject of happiness. These happiness reports will curdle even a die-hard cynic. Typically, the reports gloss over the most significant component of happiness — the Gini coefficient.

The Gini coefficient is a single number that demonstrates a country’s degree of inequality in the distribution of income/wealth.

For example, the US has a truly crappy Gini coefficient of 41.1. (Ukraine’s Gini coefficient is 25 ) In real-world numbers, the top 1% of Americans averaged 40 times more income than the bottom 90%. While some Americans dine on Kobe beef, others eat shoe leather.



Carlyn Beccia

Author & illustrator. My latest books — 10 AT 10, MONSTROUS: THE LORE, GORE, & SCIENCE, and THEY LOST THEIR HEADS. Contact: CarlynBeccia.com