Episode 79

Part 2: The Secret of Finnish Happiness with Bill Couch

In Part 2 of Matt’s interview with an American ambassador in Finland the conversation grows in it’s cultural dialogue and reflections on Finland as experienced by an international.

There is no dispute that Finland has been designated the happiest country in the world for the last few years. The understanding of happiness is not so much centred on chuckling, laughing or smiling all of the time. Matt and Bill discuss that in their experience of Finland that there are many great aspects of Finnish culture that lead to ‘contentedness'. This Finnish contentment comes with a feeling of being satisfied and secure in life.

Perhaps it is due to all the forests and the lakes in Finland that encourage people to get outside and reap the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature. It might also be the work/life balance that people achieve in Finland that is discussed in more depth during this episode.

The podcast also discusses the place of food in Finnish society, from the famous cafe culture of ' kahvi ja pulla’, loganberry tarts, through to the one of the original take-away menu items ‘kalakukka’ a Kuopio speciality of fish baked inside rye bread. Other places that get particular mention are Pori and Porvoo. However it is Matt who keeps a diplomatic line when Bill discusses the differences between authentic Italian pizza and American versions. No mention of pineapple pieces here!

Before he heads off on his next ‘tour’ which will be in Finland’s fellow Baltic sea facing country Latvia, Bill reflects on the differences in the world which he grew up in and the world that children today face. Friendships can change quickly and the challenges that internationals face in maintaining family contact across different countries of the world. Social media and video calling have their place, as does time spent with people in person.Perhaps given the size, shape and setting of Finland geographically, this balance between keeping in touch and being alone may have been achieved by indigenous communities such as Sami which has set a good example. Bill Couch recognises that Finland has many secrets to enjoying life and finding contentment. There is much more to mastering Finland to be discovered.

Lastly, the episode ends with an invitation, to visit and engage with the US embassy in Finland. There is so much more to learn international relations between Finland and the rest of the world. If you are an international in Finland, why not let your embassy know that you are here.