Finland wants to send 10 lucky people on a 5 day sojourn to discover why their piece of the planet has been voted “the happiest country on earth.” The coaching will cover four key themes: nature and lifestyle, health and balance, design and everyday, and food and well-being.

We applaud their marketing team for coming up with this “masterclass for happiness” campaign and wish them well as they collect contestants’ vital information and demand that they spread the word of the Finns on tiktok.

But is it necessary to go to Finland to experience happiness?  Let’s examine whether winning this trip to Finland will actually raise your mood level to “maximum joy.”

First off, having all your travel expenses paid by the Finns definitely raises the spirits. So score “plus five” on the happiness scale.

But you still have to get there. Say you’re leaving from New York. Getting to the Kuru Resort will take approximately 13 1/2 hours. Plus packing, getting to the airport, going through customs, waiting around. Let’s say all told it’s 18 hours door to door. This scores a “minus three” in the happiness category.

What about the gasoline, jet fuel, and other climate irritants that are being used to propel your stiff body from one continent to another? Should these be counted against the Finns “close relationship with nature?” Score “minus three” there.

So you’ve arrived at the Kuru private resort. It looks pretty swank, assuming you like thread counts. So score “plus two.” But you’re a little jet-lagged from the trip and the time change and the changeover in Helsinki, so yo wander around in a daze, hoping to shake off the lethargy. “Minus one” for that.

But now you’re going to spend four days listening to so-called “happiness experts” lecture you on things that will promote well-being. Like getting enough sleep, going for walks in the woods, eating well, and surrounding yourself with expensive luxury items.  That seems like the Finnish version of a “Hilton Resort Excursion” where you get cheap accommodations in exchange for listening to a sales pitch on time shares. Thanks, but no thanks. “Minus three.”

There’s more to examine, but so far the Finns score a “minus three” on our happiness scale. But we acknowledge some people love to fly halfway around the world to shack up in a remote luxury hotel and listen to people with accents talk about pampering yourself for five days.

The reality of Finland, like with any other dot on the map, is that there’s more to life than a luxury resort in the woods.  Here’s a reminder of what it’s like to walk through Helsinki in January. And that’s why the Finnish have a saying, kalsarikännit, which translates as “pantsdrunk,” and refers to the practice of binge-drinking at home alone in your underpants. That won’t make the media campaign, but it does explain why they’re sending you to one of their luxury resorts in June.

As for us SuperOptimists, we will take the Finns four-point plan and institute it closer to home. We will spend the next five days walking through the woods with our dog, taking naps, eating well, wearing a fluffy bathrobe, and taking hot baths. We will also give ourselves lots of credit for doing all this without needing any instruction from the Finns.


There’s a groundswell of opinion out there that unfettered positivity is the key to a happy, successful life. It’s been posited that those people who complain about their situations are digging a hole for themselves, a hole that leads to failure, social isolation, and death!

But what if these cheerful idiots are wrong?

As with most blanket pronouncements, their claim of constant conviviality is utter nonsense. Complaining is like perspiring. It’s part of human nature, and a necessary outlet for dealing with the stresses and strains of mortality. Life is hard, whether you’re a trash collector attempting to wake up at 4 am for your Thursday shift, or Nicole Kidman working hard to cling to the top of the Hollywood pecking order.

So if you feel guilty for not feeling constantly “happy” or “well-adjusted,” you have our permission to stop right now and let out a good, long sigh, followed by a string of choice expletives, some of which can be found here.

Give yourself license to let off some steam. Otherwise, when things really do go off the rails in your life, you won’t have the tools to deal with the problem successfully.*

*Of course, constant complaining can drive your friends and family mad, and eventually, cause them to evade your presence. Make sure you mix it up a little, and add self-effacing humor to your litany of problems, to give it that “universal feel.” And if you’re really down in the dumps, may we suggest a vacation here.