Finland Today, a country of Melancholic Introverts or Misunderstood Shy Extroverts?

The former Finnish president Tarja Halonen. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The former Finnish president Tarja Halonen. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Finland. Often regarded as the “Land of a Thousand Lakes” and the “Northern Lights.” A country close to the Arctic Circle, where the winter is always dark and Christmases white.

Finland is widely seen as sad, desolate, and lugubrious. A very cold Nordic country where gloom and melancholy dominate. Finns often appear grimly in touch with no one but themselves, and making eye contacts may be considered an affront. They are perceived by many as “unusual” people by cultures that are more talkative. Cheerfulness is considered a taboo. Solitude is the safe haven for Finns, and they revel in their personal space.

And when considering that Finland has one of the lowest birth rates and one of the highest suicide rates in the world, one doesn’t need to wonder how these opinions were formed and stereotypes stuck.

But are the above mentioned points true? Well …

Finland in the ’90s was a different reality from Finland Today, a country then still recovering from post-Soviet realities, and one drowned in the abyss of national economic depression. Coupled with high alcohol consumption, people had little reason to be cheerful hence majority were sad and gloomy.

Do these stereotypes still hold “entirely” true in Finland Today?

I don’t think so.

According to the Eurostat survey, Finns have been ranked as one of the happiest people in the world.

Objectively, Finns experience a high quality of life, high standard of living, low levels of corruption, high literacy rates, high life expectancy, small income gap, wide access to health care, and a healthy work-life balance.

But there are more personal factors that help shed more light on how the level of happiness of a particular country is measured.

The New Economic Foundation’s (NEF) National Accounts of Well-being project analyses European countries based on how citizens feel about their own state of happiness.

According to the statistics, Finland’s well-being profile highlights Finland scoring exceptionally high in the “Absence of Negative Feelings” category but just above average in the “Positive Feelings” category.

According to the statistics, Finland’s well-being profile highlights Finland scoring exceptionally high in the “Absence of Negative Feelings” category but just above average in the “Positive Feelings” category.

This factor is a testament to the Finnish culture, as Finns though of an independent nature, appear to be modest in their aspirations and jealous of their honest reputation.

When someone’s shy, we often assume they are introverted. Shyness often does go with introversion, but not always. Some people who get anxious around strangers, actually love being in the company of others, while true introverts find people exhausting in general. Like other shy people, shy introverts are often misunderstood and are perceived to be cold, aloof, unapproachable or sad. According to Bernie Carducci a psychologist at Indiana University, “these people are particularly likely to be judged negatively.”

Finns are still not great at small talks, and most still go about their daily businesses with a straight face but it doesn’t mean they are extremely shy, overtly depressed, or melancholic.

On a lighter note, Finland has the “most metal bands per inhabitant” in the world, which makes it the unofficial heavy metal capital of the world.

And if we go by latest studies, it shows metal heads are one of the calmest and happiest people in the world.