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The happiest country in the world wants to fly you in for a free masterclass

Lake Saimaa in Puumala, Finland, which is near the resort where 10 lucky participants will stay for a happiness masterclass in June.
Alessandro Rampazzo
AFP via Getty Images
Lake Saimaa in Puumala, Finland, which is near the resort where 10 lucky participants will stay for a happiness masterclass in June.

Finland, which has held the title of happiest country for six years running, is now looking to teach the rest of the world a thing or two.

The Nordic country is hosting a four-day happiness masterclass in June, and its tourism board says 10 lucky applicants will get to go for free. Others will be able to study (and hopefully cheer) up virtually when it later becomes available online.

"A question we often get is: 'How are you so happy?'" Heli Jimenez, senior director of international marketing at Business Finland, said in a statement. "We believe Finnish happiness stems from a close relationship with nature and our down-to-earth lifestyle: it's not some mystical state, but a skill that can be learned and shared."

Finland is marketing itself as uniquely positioned to take on the challenge, having just clinched the top spot in the World Happiness Report yet again (the U.S., in contrast, is ranked 15th).

Happiness and well-being can be measured in many ways, including through people's own reported satisfaction with their lives, as researchers note. The World Happiness Report focuses on six factors to help explain it: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.

Finnish tourism authorities have a few ideas for why people there are consistently so content, including low levels of crime and corruption, efficient public services and access to nature.

Now they want to "help people find and master that Finnish state of mind" — saunas and pine forests included.

"We've chosen the best coaches, one of the most breath-taking resorts in Finland, and a time in the early summer amid the beautiful Finnish nature for our masterclass," Jimenez says. "We feel it's a really unique opportunity to discover something wonderful and valuable: anyone curious should definitely apply."

What the class entails

The happiness crash course will be divided up into four main themes — food and well-being, health and balance, design, and nature and lifestyle — and taught by four coaches who are experts in various fields. Officials say a more detailed program is on the way.

It's slated to run from June 12-15, with participants arriving the day before and departing the day after.

They'll stay at the Kuru Resort, a luxury resort in the Finnish Lakeland region that organizers describe as "surrounded by fragrant pine forests and breath-taking views."

Each participant will get their own villa with panoramic windows, as well as a private sauna and spa.

Because the program emphasizes good sleep and a digital detox, organizers say, the villas have no TVs (though in-room WiFi will be available) and even the bedding has been approved by sleep specialists.

"Every minute detail [at] the resort is designed to help you wind down and relax — fragrances, sounds and materials included," they add.

Participants' travel and accommodation expenses will be covered. But they have to hold up their end of the deal: They'll be filmed throughout their visit, with that material to be used in Visit Finland's communications and advertising.

How to apply

Officials say anyone over the age of 18 can apply for the masterclass, either individually or with a friend, relative or partner.

They're looking for people who speak English, aren't representing brands or companies and are comfortable being filmed.

"We are looking for outgoing people who are interested in comprehensive wellbeing and Finnish nature," they say. "You don't have to be a self-help enthusiast or have survival skills in Finnish nature. All we want is an open mind."

To apply, people must fill out an online form and complete a social media challenge on either Instagram or TikTok.

The challenge: Create content, preferably a video, showing "what things make you believe you may be secretly a Finn," and explaining why you want to take the masterclass.

"Are you the type of person who would much rather go to a forest than to a party? One who feels absolute desperation when running out of coffee? Prefers washing up in a lake rather than in the shower? That's just your inner Finn," Visit Finland said in an Instagram post announcing the challenge.

Applications will close on April 2, and winners will be publicly announced — on social media, of course — a month later.

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Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.