The happiest countries in the world: Finland takes first place for the fifth year in a row

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(CNN) — The devastating loss of life and growing uncertainty keep the world in suspense, but there is good news for humanity: Kindness is on the rise all over the world.

This is one of the key findings of the World Happiness Report, a publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network based on data from a global survey of people in some 150 countries.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the report looks at happiness around the world – the happiest nations, those at the very bottom of the happiness scale and everything in between, and the factors that lead to greater happiness.

And given two years of data on the Covid-19 pandemic, the report revealed something unexpected.

“The big surprise was that globally, in an inconsistent way, there was a very large increase in all three forms of philanthropy that were asked about in the Gallup World Poll,” John Helliwell, one of the three founding editors of the report, told CNN. Travel.

Donations to charity, helping strangers and volunteering are all par for the course, “especially helping strangers in 2021, compared to pre-pandemic or 2020, at a very high amount in all regions of the world,” said Halliwell, who is professor emeritus Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia.

In 2021, the global average across the three indicators jumped by about 25% from pre-pandemic levels, the report says.

And benevolence certainly comes first when the world reacts to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But before moving on to how this increasingly global conflict might affect happiness, let’s look at countries where this feeling was in abundance in 2021.

The happiest nation in the world is the Scandinavians

For the fifth year in a row, Finland is the happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report, based primarily on life estimates from the Gallup World Poll.

The Scandinavian country and its neighbors Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland scored very well on the indicators the report uses to explain its findings: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support during difficult times, low levels of corruption and high social trust. generosity in a community where people care for each other and the freedom to make key life decisions.

Denmark is in second place in this year’s ranking, followed by Iceland in third place. Sweden and Norway are ranked seventh and eighth respectively.

Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are ranked 4th to 6th, Israel is 9th and New Zealand rounds out the top ten.

Canada (#15), US (#16) and UK (#17) made the top 20.

People gather for a drink on a sunny day in Helsinki in June 2020. For the fifth year in a row, Finland has been ranked the happiest country in the world.

Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP via Getty Images

Happiness in hard times

Another bright spot in this year’s report: Anxiety and stress have declined in the second year of the pandemic. While they are still up 4% in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic times, anxiety and stress are up 8% in 2020.

“I think part of it is because people knew a little more than what they were dealing with in their sophomore year, even if there were new surprises,” Helliwell said.

The report says average life estimates have “remained remarkably resilient” during the pandemic, with negative and positive influences offsetting each other.

“For younger people, life satisfaction has declined, and for those over 60 it has risen—with little overall change,” the report says.

Halliwell acknowledges that there is a sense that crises bring out either the best or the worst of society.

“But in general, people are too pessimistic about goodwill in the societies they live in, so when a real disaster happens and they see other people react positively to helping others, it raises their opinion of both themselves and their fellow citizens. Helliwell said.

“And so you will find that both the trust in others and the overall appreciation of life often goes up at times when you think ‘these are bad times’, but what happens is that people work together to get through it.” “.

Now the eyes of the whole world are riveted to Ukraine, which ranks 98th in the World Happiness Report.  Here, the St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv is depicted on February 27, just a few days after Russian troops invaded the country.

Now the eyes of the whole world are riveted to Ukraine, which ranks 98th in the World Happiness Report. Here, the St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv is depicted on February 27, just a few days after Russian troops invaded the country.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

This interplay of negative and positive applies to a large extent to the situation in Ukraine, although it remains to be seen how the balance will tip in the long run. According to Helliwell, the joint work, of course, to some extent compensates for the tragedies faced by the Ukrainians.

“Their center was attacked, so they’ll get some pooling effect, but of course the actual damage is terrible.”

The impact of the war on overall happiness in Russia is especially murky because government censorship distorts information that could help in the evaluation of life.

The polls on which this year’s happiness rating was based were conducted long before the invasion. Ukraine and Russia fall into the bottom half of the global happiness rankings in the 2022 report, with Ukraine at 98th and Russia at 80th.

Afghanistan ranks 146th at the bottom of the rankings in the 2022 report, a “strong reminder of the material and non-pecuniary damage that the war is inflicting on its many victims,” ​​said Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, another editor of the report. news release.

The current war raging in Ukraine means happiness in other parts of the world could also be shaken.

“It is quite possible that some people see that war can make every day a close-up on their TV screens, and the lives of people who have nothing to do with war and want nothing to do with war can make them feel happy that they are not there. or painfully sensitive to the people that are out there,” said Helliwell.

“And those are real and understandable emotions, but they play on opposite sides of the balance.”

Let’s hope the surge in philanthropy in all its forms continues through 2022 and beyond.

New Zealand ranked 10th on the list of the happiest countries in the world.  Here on the South Island of New Zealand, the famous lupins of Lake Tekapo bloom.

New Zealand ranked 10th on the list of the happiest countries in the world. Here on the South Island of New Zealand, the famous lupins of Lake Tekapo bloom.

Norraset Sanee/Songkhla Studio/Adobe Stock

The happiest countries in the world 2022 edition

1. Finland

2. Denmark

3. Iceland

4. Switzerland

5. Netherlands

6. Luxembourg

7. Sweden

8. Norway

9. Israel

10. New Zealand

11. Austria

12. Australia

13. Ireland

14. Germany

15. Canada

16. USA

17. United Kingdom

18. Czech Republic (Czech Republic)

19. Belgium

20. France

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