For a country with a mean annual temperature of approximately 42 degrees, 200 days of winter, and weeks on end with no sun at all, Finland sure is a happy country. So happy, in fact, that The United Nations just crowned them the happiest country in the world in their World Happiness Report for the second year in a row. Of the 156 countries ranked, Finland’s citizens enjoy a combination of strong social support networks, high gross domestic product per capita and a sense of overall freedom. Next up are Denmark and Norway, Scandinavian countries that are also no stranger to the list, with Central African Republic and South Sudan coming in last.
To spread the love, Finland is offering free trips through their “Rent a Finn” program. Eight Finns from various parts of the country have volunteered to serve as “happiness guides” for those who qualify for the trip. To apply, you have to film a video of yourself explaining your connection to nature, fill out a form, and submit by April 14.
“The world is getting busier and busier. Many travelers search for silence and serene nature. Well, Finland has those things in abundance,” said a company statement. “That’s why Finns are opening their homes and lives and welcoming visitors to experience how to reconnect with nature.”
Winners of the trip will spend three summer days in Finland participating in traditional nature-focused activities like berry picking in the wilderness, fishing at a cottage, basking in a Finnish sauna or visiting a national park. You’ll have to be comfortable on camera, since your adventure will be filmed for marketing purposes.
Of course, the rest of the world wants to know how they do it. “Our secret is in our nature, very literally,” said a statement on Rent A Finn’s website. “When others go to therapy, Finns put on a pair of rubber boots and head to the woods.”
There could be some truth to that. Making up for the dark and cold days is Finland’s “polar days,” where the sun does not set at all for approximately 73 days in parts of the country within the Arctic Circle. According to research from the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the sun’s ultraviolet rays emit natural opiates or endorphins in the body, producing a feeling of euphoria.
While you wait for your upcoming trip, take this quiz created by Hentsa Performance in partnership with Visit Finland that offers personalized advice to help you improve your emotional and physical wellbeing. Even if you’re not visiting any time soon, you can still try to channel some of their joy.