The latest World Happiness Report has named Finland the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row, and in order to prove just why they're the happiest, Finland is offering free trips for people to come to the country and see for themselves.
Finland was closely followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and The Netherlands. The report was published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 20, which has been declared International Day of Happiness by the UN.
The report ranks countries on six crucial variables that encourage happiness: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support, and generosity.
"The top 10 countries tend to rank high in all six variables, as well as emotional measures of well-being," report co-editor and professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia John Helliwell told CNN.
"It's true that last year all Finns were happier than rest of the countries' residents, but their immigrants were also happiest immigrants in the world," he said. "It's not about Finnish DNA. It's the way life is lived in those countries."
While the top countries tend to pay high taxes for a social safety net, they also trust their government, enjoy freedom and are generous with one another.
"They do care about each other," Helliwell said. "That's the kind of place people want to live."
The ranking also included Switzerland, which came in sixth place, followed by Sweden, New Zealand, Canada — the only country in the Americas on the list — and Austria. Though New Zealand has been in the news recently for the terrible terrorist attack in the city of Christchurch, the country's response to the tragedy is indicative of its overall sense of well-being.
"What stands out about the happiest and most well-connected societies is their resilience and ability to deal with bad things," Helliwell said. "After the 2011 earthquake and now the terrorist attack in Christchurch - with high social capital, where people are connected - people rally and help each other and (after the earthquake) rebuild immediately."
Meanwhile, the United States came in 19th place, dropping one spot since last year and five spots since 2017. Though the US ranks 10th for income, it lacks certain attributes that the report values. It comes in 12th place for generosity, 37th place for social support, 42nd place for corruption, and 61st place for freedom.
Report co-author Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, in part blames addiction, which he says is an epidemic, along with unhappiness in the US, a rich country where overall well-being has been deteriorating.
The United Nations General Assembly declared March 20 as World Happiness Day in 2012, noting "the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives."
The rankings of the world's happiest countries come from an analysis of data from surveys in 156 countries, including the Gallup World Poll, which started in 2005-2006.
For those hoping to enjoy some of the happiness Finland has to offer, the country’s tourism board, Visit Finland, has launched the "Rent a Finn" initiative. Participants can book one of eight Finnish people who will serve as happiness guides, sharing their connection to nature. Those interested in participating can learn about the guides via short profiles and videos on the Rent a Finn website.
To apply, you must tell Finland about yourself in a short video, talk about your connection to nature and why you'd want to visit Finland. The application process ends on April 14. Those selected will get a free three-day trip to the country and can go by themselves or with a friend or family. The trip includes both travel and accommodation expenses.