This week is going to be so inspiring to us! Even though the summer is at its best here in Finland this week we are glued to our laptops and enjoying the amazing set up of the International Positive Psychology World Congress (IPPA2021).
We have already attended some of the pre-congress workshops where we have been able to get updated with the latest findings in the field of positive psychology and connect with others who share our enthusiasm. It feels absolutely fantastic!
June 12., 2021 was a big day for us Finns. Our national football team had made it to their first ever European Championship game. Even the people who usually are not interested in football had now gathered to watch the game on TV. The spirit was high and the truest fans had traveled to Copenhagen to cheer our team in front of the home audience of the Danish team.
Finland has ranked first on the UN Happiness Report for the fourth time in a row. Denmark has also been among the top countries in that study. It was very interesting to watch the game having this in mind!
The game had lasted some 40 minutes when one of the Danish team’s top players, Christian Eriksen, collapsed on the field and soon the audience was to witness the paramedics trying to get him back to life.
The whole world seemed to stop and I bet at that moment millions of people were praying for Eriksen. The minutes seemed long and the paramedics worked hard to revive Eriksen. To protect Eriksen’s and paramedics’ privacy the Finnish fans handed a Finnish flag to cover the situation. At some point the paramedics carried Eriksen away from the football field.
We could see the team mates of Eriksen very shocked and touched by the situation. We could see how the captain of the Danish team comforted the spouse of the collapsed player. The TV cameras showed the audience crying and hugging each other at the moment of despair and insecurity.
While waiting for the news of Eriksen’s condition the fans of the Finnish team wanted to show their support for the Danes and started chanting the collapsed player’s first name “Christian” where the Danish fans answered by chanting his last name “Eriksen”. Even thinking about this now gives me chills and tears of compassion. The countries unified at the moment of adversity. They were sharing the same and only one goal – to get Eriksen back in life and well again.
Later it was announced that Eriksen was alive in the hospital and that was all that mattered. The game continued and Finland won 0-1. Even when the winning goal maker Joel Pohjanpalo was interviewed after the game all that seemed to matter to him was that Eriksen was alive. He did not want to celebrate the victory too much.
In the UN World Happiness Report one of the things measured in the study is community spirit. That is something that we got to experience and witness in that game.
What else could we learn from the science of happiness point of view from the events of this game?
Relationships are the number one thing in happiness
When we feel loved and supported we thrive
Compassion is empowering
Witnessing somebody do good makes us happy
When we have difficulties they bond us together
We felt close and united because of what happened in the game. This will definitely bond us together as nations, too. After the game the Defense minister of Denmark sent her Finnish colleague a message where he thanked the team and the fans for their heartwarming and comforting support. This is how the happiest countries in the world play happy football and I am sure we want to do live by these principles outside the football field, too.
We are interested in what makes Finns happy and Finland the happiest place to live in the world. It is intriquing that Finland has been chosen as the happiest country in the world for a fourth time in a row. What makes Finland so special? How is the Finnish happiness created on the individual and societal level?
It seems that we are clearly doing something right over here. As the authors of the World Happiness Report point out most of the differences in happiness outcomes were connected to differences in life expectancy, social support, gross domestic product per capita, generosity, freedom to make life choices and for example to subjective perception of corruption levels. Questions such as: “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”or “Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?” were used to evaluate the subjective experience of individuals.
Although Finland has ranked high in happiness we are far from perfect. Just like in other countries in our continent, unemployment is high compared to other countries in European Union and we rank high in both depression and suicide rates. On the other hand our public school system is among the best in the world, public health care system is available to all and we have a relatively low rate of powerty compared to others. One thing that has been highlighted in the studies is trust. We trust each other and the society at large.