Tuesday, May 4, 2021

"The Grim Secret of Nordic Happiness"

I thought everyone knew this. At minimum as regards the Finns. 

As to the Nordics, what with the Janteloven I sometimes think there is a bit of play-acting in the ostentatious humility.

From Slate, April 28:
By Jukka Savolainen 

It’s not hygge, the welfare state, or drinking. It’s reasonable expectations.

Is hygge still a thing? The Danish concept of comfortable conviviality and all things cozy is supposed to capture the essence of Danish culture and has been marketed as the secret for happy living. A few years back, there was a surge of hygge-related books, articles, and household products. Journalists from around the world were touring Denmark to document various aspects of this unique lifestyle. The enthusiasm around Denmark was stimulated by the nation’s reputation of being the happiest country in the world. However, last time I checked, the designer store across the street here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, had moved its selection of Hygge branded candles to the clearance corner.

If there has been a downturn in the hygge industry in recent years, it may be because Finland, my home country, has surpassed Denmark in the World Happiness Report four years running. Denmark occupies the third place, after Iceland, in the most recent edition, released in March, and its distance to Finland is growing. As reported by multiple media outlets, the Finnish spiritual equivalent to hygge is something far less convivial and much more difficult to pronounce: kalsarik√§nnit, which translates as “pantsdrunk,” refers to the practice of binge drinking home alone in your underpants. If this is a secret to happy life, let’s keep it that way: a secret.

Nobody is more skeptical than the Finns about the notion that we are the world’s happiest people. To be fair, this is hardly the only global ranking we’ve topped recently. We are totally fine with our reputation of having the best educational system (not true), lowest levels of corruption (probably), most sustainable economy (meh), and so forth. But happiest country? Give us a break. As reported by a correspondent for the Economist, when a Cabinet member of the Finnish government was introduced at an international conference as “the representative of the happiest country in the world,” he responded: “If that’s true, I’d hate to see the other nations.”

Finland hasn’t always had such a blissed out international reputation. In 1993, when I was living in New York and still fresh off the boat, 60 Minutes featured a segment on Finland, which opened with this description of Helsinki pedestrians going about their business: “This is not a state of national mourning in Finland, these are Finns in their natural state; brooding and private; grimly in touch with no one but themselves; the shyest people on earth. Depressed and proud of it.” As far as facial expressions of the Finnish people, not much has changed since then. We are still just as reserved and melancholy as before. If happiness were measured in smiles, Finnish people would be among the most miserable in the world....


As noted in the outro from 2019's "FinnTech: What To Do With Near-Indestructible Black Plastic": 

I remember asking a Finnish woman why it sounded like people were laughing when they spoke Finnish, were they happy?
"Oh no" she said and then she stopped talking.

Someone, I can't recall who, mentioned that on public transportation Finns sit and stare at their shoes. It is considered very forward to stare at someone else's shoes.
I don't know as much about Finland as I do about Norway but here are some of our posts:

Thousands Of Migrants Flee Finland Hoping For A Better Life In Iraq

 "Embracing p√§ntsdrunk, the Finnish way of drinking alone in your underwear"

The Finns used to dance the Tango but maybe not so much anymore. The only Finnish band I could name is an old-school Finnmetal band, Children Of Bodom described as:

"Melodic death metal meets virtuoso guitars: Children Of Bodom took the spirit of eighties
 heavy metal and thrash, and married it to a contemporary death metal framework"

or, as Encyclopaedia Mettalum thumbnails it:

Genre: Melodic Death/Power Metal
Lyrical themes: Death, Hate, Lake Bodom, Anger, Antagonism
Current label: Nuclear Blast

And then there was the time "Norway Invades Finland":

That's really all I've got. They fought the Soviets to a standstill in WWII. The famine that started in 1866 was the last natural great starving in Europe but nowhere near as bad as what Stalin and the communists did in the Holodomor, 150,000 vs 3.5 to 4 million.
And the people sound like they're laughing when they talk, but they aren't.

Somehow related:

These Captcha Things Are Getting More Difficult

Select all squares with Finnish snipers:


Is that Marshal Mannerheim in the tree on the right?