This game of happiness.

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It is that time of the year again when the world’s happiest country contest is on. And guess what; Finland has for the fifth time been chosen by the best of experts in all facets of life ‘the happiest country’ I am somewhat biased having been married to a great and lovely Finnish woman and having lived in rural Finland for almost a year. I was then already totally convinced it was a happy country with a happy population. I never thought it would be voted the happiest.

Back in 1965/66 when living in Finland I thought it refreshing that it seemed such a free country with the emphasis on things to look good and natural. A stunning mixture of both outside and inside the homes often so seamless, almost effortless. It’s architecture mind-blowingly beautiful without artifice or unnecessary florid decorations for the sake of decorations. In the homes and gardens no ducks in endless flight on the walls or tires around the gardenias’. The university that my wife attended designed by Alvar Aalto, blew my mind in its honesty of design and simplicity. Finland was the forgotten corner of Europe. Not anymore now though.

The rapport on this yearly happiness contest measures all sorts of criteria but free education, including colleges and universities, and free medical care seems to be the foundations on which much of the happiness of people depend. A mother with a newborn has 480 days maternity leave with 80% of her salary paid and dad gets 6 weeks with full pay. Every new born gets the ‘famous box’ in which there are the basic needs for baby and in which the new-born can also sleep.

I always thought happiness and the search for it was overrated. In the video of the Happiest Country a man describes feelings of ‘gladness’ more appropriate. I think that in Australia we tend to forget that we have eyes. How else can we explain the horrendous ugliness of our shopping strips, the mindless repetitive advertisements and why al those car yards littering the main thoroughfares?

I live in The Southern Highlands considered to be a very beautiful part of Australia with lovely gardens, yet, in one of the main thoroughfares we blissfully allow kilometers of car-yards to advertise their cars, bonnets yawning wide open and garnished with signage of ‘specials’ to attract who?

We seem to underestimate how our eyes can influence happiness. We need beauty as much as we need a nice sausage or piece of salmon. When I wake up and see my nice bedroom, nice bedspread, beautiful paintings, a lovely wooden desk with a nice rush-chair, I feel happy before I jump out of my bed. The kitchen has nice saucepans, lovely well designed cutlery, great coffee pot. I feel good before I even boil the kettle. The same with my living quarters, light and airy with the outside part of the inside. It gladdens my heart. My lovely books all in a row on bookshelves.

We need more beauty in Australia if we want to climb the happiness ladder. We are not doing too bad at nr 12 and the US climbing up to 19 on par with the Chech Republic. Holland was 5th.

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24 Responses to “This game of happiness.”

  1. Dora Says:

    Agree fully Gerard, so important to be surrounded by colour and good design. Such a shame, society too busy to even realise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. catterel Says:

    Yes, you are absolutely right! Beauty is essential for a contented spirit, even when it’s only in the eye of the beholder.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. leggypeggy Says:

    We loved our time in Finland.


  4. petspeopleandlife Says:

    The Finnish are lovely people, and I don’t doubt that they are very satisfied with their life. How fortunate for the people to have a life with lovely amenities, so unlike life in most other countries. The only drawback is living in Putin’s backyard. He has threatened Finland to beware of joining NATO.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, and Finland was under Russian rule in the past and of course under the Swedish as well. That’s why they treasure their independence very much.
      They keep away from being on either side and prefer to embrace their independence by tactful diplomacy and being good neighbours.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dorothy Brett Says:

    Lovely story gerard, so was being Finnish how dear Helvi got to be so special.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rangewriter Says:

    Yes, Finland always ranks high on these happiness scales. And America keeps moving in the opposite directions from Finland as far as caring for its citizens. It is more concerned with is corporations than with its people. I can’t believe we have nudged upward, as it seems everyone here is ready to gouge out the eyes of anyone who slightly disagrees with him or her.

    I fully agree that beauty feeds happiness. That must be why Scandinavian design always appeals to me.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Yes, so true! Beauty brings joy and contentment! And we can find beauty in all kinds of places.
    I, too, enjoy seeing books that mean something to me lined up on the bookshelf awaiting me to re-read. 🙂
    PS…How are you and Bentley doing?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Forestwood Says:

    I can relate to the beauty of Finland, even though I only experienced it for a short time. To have a memory of living there for a year, would be a dream. All those saunas to enjoy!
    And yet, if you read Snow’s blog, a Finn turned Aussie turned Finn, you would have to question the happiness index.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. gerard oosterman Says:

    I tried looking at Snow’s blog but could not find it. Yes, it is odd how such a dark and cold country could be voted 5 times in a row to be the happiest.
    The darkness makes up in summer when it hardly gets dark at all. And the cold, there is little wind so even with – 15c or so, one can
    happily go for walks in the forest, make a cup-o-tea on a woodfire or do a bit of skiing.
    Much is made of the Finns not going around smiling or given to chatter.
    The main criteria for happiness is their security of income, free medical care and free education AND NO private schools. A master’s degree is the minimum requirements to teach and even then one is lucky to get accepted as a teacher whom are very highly respected and regarded.
    One criteria too is their low incarceration rates, based on rehabilitation more than just punishment only.
    Finland has 50 prisoners per 100.000 population.
    Australia 214 ” ” ” ”
    America 639 ” ” ” ”

    Of course, they are happy to pay much more tax and the GST alone is 21%. Here taxation is demonized but we pay the price!


  10. auntyuta Says:

    Finland has 50 prisoners per 100.000 population.
    Australia 214 ” ” ” ”
    America 639 ” ” ” ”

    These numbers speak for themselves! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. shoreacres Says:

    There’s nothing happier than Finnish folk music, and there’s one Finnish polka — “Ievan Polkka” — that I absolutely adore. The storyline is basic: boy wants to take girl dancing, girl’s mother says no, girl and boy tell mother to get lost. Happy, no?

    There are some videos online that include the Finnish lyrics for following along, and the group called Loituma probably has the best known arrangement, but these Finnish girls doing an improv performance are wonderful. I dare you not to be happy after listening to them!

    Liked by 2 people

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