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New York Times recent article: “Want to Be Happy? Try Moving to Finland” totally misses the mark.

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Finland is the happiest country in the world, according to the newest World Happiness Report:

NEW YORK, March 20 – As in 2018, Finland again takes the top spot as the happiest country in the world according to three years of surveys taken by Gallup from 2016-2018. Rounding out the rest of the top ten are countries that have consistently ranked among the happiest. They are in order: Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria. The US ranked 19th dropping one spot from last year.”

World Happiness Report, 2019

Three (happy) cheers for Finland!: a land with 3.3 million saunas and 5 million people.

However, The New York Times article Want to Be Happy? Try Moving to Finland” suggests that a miserable person will be happy if they move to Finland. This is another example of how many people in the US (ranked #19) are afraid to look within themselves (or their own backyards) for positive change.

Unhappy people seem to want easy solutions. They want pills, or someone else, like a life coach, or a book on vulnerability to make them happy.

It’s easy to agree with the non sequitur of “saunas make you happy (2010 saunatimes joke here), but as a 30 year authentic sauna enthusiast, if you want to be happy, instead of moving to Finland, consider this option:

  1. Start to live more like a Finlander (without moving there).
  2. Carve out 100 square feet in your own backyard.
  3. Invest in building your own sauna.

Ways to live more like a Finlander:

  1. Be nice to people.
  2. Take a sauna.
  3. Invite others to sauna.

In Finland, they get something like 86 weeks paid vacation for maternity/paternity leave. They will pay you to go to college. They not only offer free quality health care, but a Doctor may come stay in your guest room until you feel better.

Finland may have way too many words we can’t pronounce, but they have more saunas than automobiles. This counts for something.

If US wants to work their way down on the World Happiness Report list, instead of suggesting that people move to Finland, let’s try living more like they do in Finland.

Suggestion #1: more authentic Finnish saunas.

Inside the hot room, looking out into the generous sized changing room of an authentic Finnish sauna (helping spread happiness to whoever enters).

Want to learn more about “Get Happy?” – Elvis Costello please read here.

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8 thoughts on “New York Times recent article: “Want to Be Happy? Try Moving to Finland” totally misses the mark.”

  1. What? You can’t get a doctor even do a house call, you have to always go to hospital or doctor’s reciption.
    So a doctor staying in your huest room is totally crap.

    -Hannu, native Finn living in Helsinki, Finland

  2. Im purchasing a prebuilt sauna for my basement. I noticed that the model I will be purchasing does not have a machine to ventilate the sauna. The sauna will be 7 feet by 7 feet. One website suggests that the sauna air should be moved at a rate of 22 m^3/hour.

  3. venting without a fan or electronic assistance is possible. Passive venting works via the principle of “heat rising”. For electric stove saunas, we like an air intake down low and another vent up high, opposite wall of stove.

    DISCLAIMER: I’m an independent structure wood fired sauna nut. I can do a pretty good job detailing and explaining proper venting for non wood fired saunas but you may want to circle back with your prebuilt sauna supplier to test their knowledge/thinking in this regard. (and i’d be shocked if what i suggest above is not what they prescribe for you).

    CAVEAT: Saunas inside our houses have to take moisture into consideration. Producing a lot of steam within our houses may lead to problems best dealt with up front (venting to exterior, like clothes dryers). That’s what I’d be doing/allowing for.

  4. Yes Andrew: This is one amazing sauna. Here is my story of John’s build here. And link to my Sauna Talk podcast interview with John here.

    PS… John strikes me as being quite happy, and his sauna is very much Finnish!

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