Saturday, March 24, 2018

A painting, a song & the happiest people

This did not set out to be a post about Finland. It began by accident when I learned that Finland has replaced Norway as the country with the "happiest" people and chose to probe into it a bit. I then decided a good way to illustrate the post would be with a painting by a noted Finnish artist. When I saw this piece -- "Kesailtana" (Summer Evening) -- done in 1883 by Albert Edelfelt, I ended my search: I love water / I love boats / I love a full moon / I love history / I love women .... I guess that sort of covers it. Edelfelt's works often were scenes from Finnish history, and many credit his art with bringing the culture of his country to international attention.

By coincidence, a symphonic metal band from Kitee, Finland, Nightwish, is in the midst of its "Decades World Tour." It will perform in Saint Paul next Friday. I will be there to watch/to hear the concert. Already videos are appearing on YouTube from shows held at earlier stops on this tour, and I have selected the song, "The Kinslayer," from March 16 in Philadelphia for this post. Floor Jansen is the vocalist. Frankly, I think Nightwish without Tarja Turunen is just another band among many good ones, but not a great one. Also present is a video which has Tarja doing the same song at the Taubertal Open Air Festival near Rothenburg, Germany, in 2005 .... after viewing these two performances, make your own judgment.

Finally, according to a profile compiled by the United Nations, Finland is the home of the happiest people in the world. Read on to learn more about that.

Find me some happiness .... please ....
[Part 1 of (maybe) 2]

Anyone looking for a definition of the word "happiness" probably will be disappointed. According to the Oxford and other dictionaries, the definition is this: "The state of being happy."

A list of synonyms include these: "Contentment, pleasure, contentedness, satisfaction, cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, merriness, gaiety, joy, joyfulness ...." The list goes on to include several other words, but I assume you get my drift.

I have my own thoughts/beliefs/feelings about the concept of happiness. Since the birth of this blog, they have appeared here with every post .... on the right as the reader views this page under the heading, "Happiness is momentary, from Fram."

For me, happiness always has been an elusive quarry and I really do believe it is momentary for most of us, if not actually for all of us. Whatever .... it interested me when I recently read that Finland has moved ahead of Norway as the county whose people are ranked the happiest in the world.

The list has been compiled annually since 2012 by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network of the United Nations. To make the list, statisticians rank six variables: Income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom and generosity.

Right behind Finland and Norway -- who was first on the list last year -- in the rankings are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Austrailia, Austria, Costa Rica, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the United States, which fell from 14th to 18th this time around. The United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates round out the top twenty.

A few others .... France is 23rd, followed by Mexico; Brazil comes in at 28th; Spain at 36th; Poland at 42nd; Italy at 47th; Romania at 52nd; Russia at 59th; China at 86th .... and on and on and on ....

At the bottom of the list are Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Burundi.

Anyone who is curious about this report can do a bit of research and find it on the internet.

As for me, I do not think it will help me or change me if I should pack up, pay up and move off to another country like Finland or Norway. The only solution for me, I am guessing, would rest in genetic manipulation .... and, I sincerely doubt that will be available any time during my life time ....


Anita said...

Ohh no thats a sad performance Floor it singing that song!

Sorry dont like it..But...I love Tarja she is the greatest Queen singing that song!
Here is a respond to your best country in the world..Norway down!
Although Norway is a safe country with low crime, good access to clean water and a large proportion of mobile and internet users, this year I see we will be passed by Finland, Denmark and Sweden
Many overweight, high suicide rates and high housing prices are among the factors where Norway is doing badly.
Compared with last year, there is a slight development in terms of tolerance and inclusion.
It may be related to all we see of increased refugee flows. (We almost dont have any,they are sent out of the country)Less tolerance and inclusion are something that worries, because it is important that there are no increased opposites in the world and Norway.
At the same time, there are bright spots. Globally, it is better for nutrition and health. There is the strongest progress
I think Norway has to think about it self as all rest of the world.Take care of citizens before they even think about all this money out of the country..But I am sorry to say that.Wish it could be betterMany of us think is unfair that we workers has to pay almost 50%in taxes while others live on a great childstock or other unfair things(actually a family gets 8000kr pr each child under 3 years old pluss child money 2000kr every month till they are 18 years.But i think the goverment do it because then they release working places for the citizans) I think Erna Solberg is a great leader here in Norway and I am very sad Sylvi Listhaug had to go as a justice minister because of her facebook note accusing the country’s Labor Party of “protecting terrorists over citizens.”(althogh she did say she was sorry about it 8 times)

I think Finland is a great country and hope it will continue with that.Only thing I dont like about Finland is all the mosquitos in the wood.You should visit Finland Fram! It could be a life time experience.
Beutiful painting as well.And yes we know you love cars /love water / love boats / love a full moon / love history / love women ..

Happy Saturday Fram:))

Kaya said...

Interesting post, Fram.

You read it and then you ask yourself why are the Norwegians and Finnish people are the happiest people in the world.

I don't know much about Finland but what I know about Norway amazes me. They have an excellent health care for life. I wish we would have in USA something similar. There are so many people in our country who can't afford a decent health care and a stay in hospital. And the cost of medications is so high. Probably the highest in the whole world.

Equality in Norway is also great. I read that very few are immensely rich there and not many people are desperately poor.

Public schools are excellent there. And most are as good as the few private ones.

And of course safety and security. The Norwegians have only a few nutcases with killing and shooting.

Fresh and clean environment. I like summer but when it comes there are days when you even can't see the sky and clouds because of smog.

I always wanted to visit Norway. Finland is also amazing county. I would like to learn more about it.

Have a nice weekend, Fram.

Fram Actual said...

There is an inexplicable element some people possess which forms an invisible aura about them to create a natural stage presence. Some actors have it; some musicians have it. Tarja Turunen has it .... Floor Jansen does not. It is evident Tarja mesmerizes her audience and turns her fellow band members into something greater than themselves. Anyway .... yes, Anita, she is the queen of any stage she sets foot on ....

Your thoughts about Norway are interesting to me. I know North Sea oil has made Norway a wealthy country, and the government shares that wealth with the people in the form of free health care and other benefits. I think the world could use more politicians like your Sylvi Listhaug.

I am not knowledgeable enough to make remarks about the other points you mention regarding life in Norway, but I want to add a thought about mosquitoes in Finland .... when I was living in Michigan, I still was a hunter. I recall snow four to five feet deep in the woodlands, but solid enough to walk upon. There was a fierce wind. The area encircling the huge, old trees was clear of snow, so I decided to drop into one and take a break. I picked out one and, upon moving to the edge, saw it was already occupied -- by swarms of mosquitoes the size of sparrows. That, of course, is a bit of an exaggeration, but they were the biggest mosquitoes I ever have seen, before or since, and it was the end of November in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with winter in full force.

Thank you, Anita, for coming and for your well written, well thought-out comment. Yes, I love all those things that I mentioned and that you repeated .... I suppose I could have added I also love string instruments, especially guitars and violins, but there was none in the Albert Edelfelt painting, and the contents of the piece formed my point about being caught up and captured by it. I am sort of teasing you now, but, yes, the list was pretty thorough ....

Take care, stay safe and see you here and there ....

Fram Actual said...

"Why are the Norwegians and Finnish people the happiest people in the world?" she asks.

My first inclination is to emulate "Bitter Bierce" -- Ambrose Bierce, a writer, a poet, a journalist whose sarcasm is/was legendary -- and say because they are delusional, Kaya .... that is why ....

But, I am in sort of a good mood today, so I simply will say: I do not know. I wish I did ....

My mood is good because the snowstorm missed me. Upwards to ten inches had been predicted, but the snow stayed south of me on a very sharp line. Not more than twenty miles away toward the southwest, ten inches have fallen. I am in a good mood because it would seem my "weather-luck" has returned.

I know a primary reason for the wealth in Norway is North Sea oil, which has made the country rich and is the source for the funds which create many of the benefits enjoyed by the Norwegian people. Of Finland, I have no knowledge. Whatever you do learn about these countries and the reasons for the happiness of the people in them, Kaya, please be sure to tell me, too.

Thank you, Kaya, for coming here and for commenting here. I very much appreciate your presence. I wish you "photography-luck" .... see you next time ....

A Cuban In London said...

Still smiling at all the things that you love and the reasons why you chose that picture. :-)

Greetings from London.

Liplatus said...

He was a talented and versatile artist.
Beautiful idyllic painting.
There is a beautiful nature in Finland where it is good to be happy.
There is peace and quiet. It certainly has a positive impact on happiness.

Surprised when Finland was chosen as the happiest country in the world.
After all, yes, things are done well.
All people have basic security. Everyone here has relatively good health care. Although we are so called Quiet people. Interaction works well.
Certainly it is always possible to appeal if you wish to appeal.

Turunen is present at high performances. The temperament!
Fram is an interesting message from Finland. Thanks to you!

Liplatus said... be continued...
Last summer was so cold that there was no mosquitoes too.:)

Here is still nature so pure that the forest can pick berries and mushrooms.
The water of the lake is relatively clean, it can also fish.

I do not know Norway so well that I can tell you about its happiness.
Beautiful scenery and nature there is, the pictures I've seen.

Fram Actual said...

As I wrote to Anita, I also could have mentioned string instruments, but there was none in the painting. I suppose firearms and books would qualify, as well, but, again, none visible. It just occurred to me that I guess those things make me happy, which is why I surround myself with them (by them?) and dwell upon them.

Thank you, CiL, for your presence and your comment .... I guess I need a few more paintings with water, boats, a full moon ....

Fram Actual said...

If everyone in Finland is like you, Liplatus, it certainly must be a very friendly and happy country ....

Yes, your painter, Albert Edelfelt, was a marvelous artist. Beyond that, as I looked at this particular painting I was in a bit of disbelief that it had been done in 1883. So much about it makes it look like a contemporary painting.

Especially when I lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I knew and worked with a number of people of Finnish descent .... and more in northern Minnesota .... and even a few in Dakota. All were friendly and talented people. One in particular, Bob Hallinan, was a professional photographer who I met through my work in journalism. He was super-skilled as a photographer and very enjoyable to be around.

It was only a few years ago that I heard of Nightwish and Tarja Turunen, long after she had parted company with the band. There are many bands whose concerts I wish I would have taken the time to attend in years past, and now it is too late because, like sports teams, band members and bands come and go.

I have a cousin who married a Swede and lives in Stockholm, and another whose ancestors stayed behind in Norway when others left for America and now lives on one of islands near Bergen. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that someday I will make a journey to see your "neck of the woods." I would like to do that ....

I thrive when I am in woodland and on water, and think that in such surroundings I would not know what country I was in and simply feel contentment. There have been times when out in a canoe I have tried to forget what year it is, and was just approaching that state when I drifted off into sleep. Much to do with time and date have to do with visual context, and if you look up at the sky and see only birds, it is not difficult to "sort of believe" you exist in another, earlier century.

So, Liplatus, thank you, for coming here and for your comment. It is easy to see you love Finland .... take care and stay safe and see you at your blog in a while ....

Smareis said...

Uma pintura muito bonita Fram... O pintor deveria estar bem inspirado nesse dia quando pintou essa tela. Ele teve muita criatividade nos detalhes. A Finlândia e um paraíso para quem gosta de fazer passeios de barco. Terra dos mil lagos. Eu acho que a Finlândia é um País muito bom pra viver. Eu gosto de café e leite, e o país possui o maior consumo de leite. A estimativa oficial é de que cada habitante na Finlândia ingira pelo menos um litro por dia. A paixão por cafeína também não fica muito para trás, a população adora café. Eu adoro o café e leite. Sorrindo, eu. As curiosidades que já li sobre a Finlândia é bem interessante... Talvez, ou quem sabe! o povo da Finlândia seja os povos mais felizes do mundo. O coração do ser humano é um terreno secreto.

Nos últimos anos a chamada psicologia positiva tem se aprofundado mais nas características e estados psicológicos positivos das pessoas, como o sentimento de felicidade. É muito difícil definir o sentimento de felicidade. A felicidade é um estado de espírito, um estado emocional e um estado mental. Mas, como é possível definir uma pessoa feliz? Para fazer isso, é possível tomar como referência suas emoções e o grau de prazer ou desprazer que causam nela.
O sentimento de felicidade é sentido por aquelas pessoas que valorizam emoções positivas com uma intensidade moderada de forma frequente. Nem todas as pessoas sabem aproveitar as pequenas coisas que a vida oferece. Talvez porque são incapazes de vê-las, ou porque não as apreciam e são mais inclinados ao apego do tipo material, por satisfações imediatas, mas que no fim não duram… a chave de tudo isso, não está em só levar uma vida simples, está em ser simples de pensamento e saber o que é importante, que é o que faz nosso coração calmo de verdade e nos identifica.

As coisas simples da vida são como as estrelas que reluzem nas noites encobertas. Sempre estão lá, rodeando-nos, oferecendo a nós sua magia sutil em forma de felicidade. Nem sempre, no entanto, paramos para olhá-las nem nos lembramos de que elas existem. Teve um dado divulgado recentemente que me chamou muito atenção: o Google publicou quais são as buscas mais comuns entre os usuários em sua plataforma de busca. Entre elas, há uma que aparece em quase todos os lugares: como ser feliz?

Eu penso que as pessoas mais felizes não são as que experimentam emoções prazerosas mais intensamente, tem rios de dinheiro, mas as que têm emoções positivas com uma intensidade moderada de forma frequente. Por isso, a felicidade está associada a um sentimento de plenitude interna e de bem-estar psicológico.
Não é mudar de País, de costume que faz a pessoa ser feliz, pode até ajudar em muitos aspectos, mais não na felicidade... A felicidade estar dentro de cada um, ninguém pode mudar o que estar dentro de cada um. Eu penso que preciso trabalhar muito, mais muito em meu interior em relação à minha felicidade.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade definiu bem a tal felicidade. “Que a felicidade não dependa do tempo, nem da paisagem, nem da sorte, nem do dinheiro. Que ela possa vir com toda simplicidade, de dentro para fora, de cada um para todos.”
Gostei muito dos vídeos Fram.
Eu ainda não postei nada no blog. Talvez no final de semana desça nova postagem no blog. Continuação de boa semana.
Uma feliz Pascoa pra você. Muitos sorrisos pra você.

Fram Actual said...

The more I look at the painting, Smareis, the more I think it is beyond beautiful. The more I look at it, the more I sense Albert Ebelfelt could see into the future, although he might not actually have realized it. So many elements within the painting look contemporary. Is the scene from 1883 or from 1983 or from today, I ask?

When I was a school boy, I began the habit of drinking coffee and reading the Minneapolis Tribune every morning before heading out for classes. Conversely, I never did like milk as a boy and did not drink it, and still do not. I sometimes wonder if I would be an inch or two taller had I drank more milk. I sort of doubt it .... but, I am curious about many things, both in terms of reality and of the intangible.

It would enjoy spending time in Finland, although I think geographically it cannot be too different from Minnesota or Wisconsin or Michigan .... and, there are so many places I would rather visit that I doubt I ever will make it there. Anyway, as often is said, the future is not ours to see, so who can say with any certainty?

I have been forming a follow-up post to this one. In doing so, I have been searching my memory and my books for indicators about happiness. I am coming to the belief/understanding/recognition that happiness does originate from within us rather than from outside of us, and that my search for it is one of absolute futility. The British philosopher John Stuart Mill, for instance, noted that about nineteen out of every twenty people were involuntarily unhappy, implying you either have the means within you to attain happiness or you do not. I am beginning to think that I simply do not have the "right/correct/proper -- mixture/formula/ingredients" within me.

I once wrote a science fiction short story entitled, "Within a Test Tube." It was my notion that the universe might exist within a petri dish and that god was a scientist monitoring the actions within it, hoping at some point a form of utopia would evolve. Anyway, as sometimes is said, your guess is as good as mine ….

More seriously, happiness may not depend on time, or landscape, or luck, or money, as Carlos Drummond de Andrade noted, but being with the "right someone" in the "right place" with enough money to live comfortably certainly creates the best conditions for finding happiness and for maintaining it .... right?

Thank you, once again, Smareis, for coming here, for your most impressive comment, for your "many smiles" .... you are amazing in many ways ....

So, Friday evening I will be attending the Nightwish concert and Saturday morning I will be on the road and gone until late Sunday evening, which means I will be absent from the sea of blogs during that time. If all goes as planned, I will be having Easter dinner with my son.

I hope your Easter weekend will be among the best ever, Smareis .... take care, stay safe and think of me thinking of you ....

Smareis said...

Eu sempre gostei muito de café, mais teve uma época na minha vida que eu tomava mais café do que hoje. Pra mim o café tem que ser bem forte, nada de café ralo. O leite misturado no café é muito bom. Quanto a minha altura o leite não me ajudou não.
Eu acho que eu não me adaptaria bem na Finlândia pelo tanto de luz que tem em época de verão. O sol da meia noite. Deve ser muito difícil adormecer durante a noite, enquanto o sol está brilhando. Às imagens são belíssimas do sol da meia noite.

O conto que você escreveu me parece bem curioso. Você poderia postar no seu blog pra gente ler.

Se divirta bem no show do Nightwish. Deve ser uma apresentação muito boa.
Boa páscoa e um ótimo fim de semana.
Muitos sorrisos pra você.

Fram Actual said...

There have been times when I drank coffee like it was the elixir of life .... not so much now, but still more than I probably should.

Coffee never has interfered with my sleep habits .... neither has light .... neither has whatever surface I might lie down upon to sleep. I have tied myself into trees and slept .... slept in a canoe while drifting along a river .... and, one of my "favorites" from when I was in the Marine Corps: Falling asleep on the crest of a gravel ridge sloping at about a sixty-degree downhill angle and forty-five degrees on either side. My stomach was on the crest of the ridge with my upper body leaning down one side and my lower body leaning down the other side. I had my helmet tied to the shoelace of one boot and my rifle tied to the shoelace of the other boot. I slept like a baby. In essence, I can lie down anytime, anywhere and be asleep in two or three minutes.

I would need to do a bit of research before I comment on light and darkness in Finland.

No, I will not post the short story I mentioned. But, if you would visit me, I would let you read it .... teasing, sort of ....

Yes, Smareis, I am sure I will enjoy the Nightwish performance even though Tarja Turunen will not be part of it. Incidentally, I had not done so before last night, but I found a YouTube video with Nightwish and Annette Olzon singing, "Ever Dream." Putting on my "critic's hat," neither Annette nor Floor Jansen comes within a "country mile" of Tarja, but Floor has a measurably better voice than Annette .... in my opinion ....

So, thank you, Smareis, for this visit and this comment and, again, for your gift of "many smiles" .... have a very happy and joyous Easter .... later ....

Smareis said...

Existem pessoas que nasceram com o dom de dormir em qualquer lugar. Para eles não existe tempo ruim quando o sono bate ou mesmo quando podem dormir. Você Fram, pelo que leio você dorme muito bem. Dormir nesses lugares que você citou, acho que não conseguiria mesmo. É muito bom quando se consegue dormir mesmo estando em algum lugar que não é apropriado pra uma boa noite de sono. Eu já sou muito complicada pra dormir. Dependendo do lugar, eu não consigo dormir, nem se eu estivesse muito cansada. Se tiver barulho, gente falando alto, música alta, muita claridade, eu demoro a pegar no sono. Minha mente sempre está muito acesa, sempre durmo muito tarde, e só vou me deitar se estiver com muito sono. Odeio deitar na cama e minha mente ficar passeando de um lugar pra outro bloqueando o sono. A nossa mente precisa de descanso.

Bem sobre ler seu conto... Há quem acredite, no entanto, que o ser humano seja capaz de se desprender do corpo durante o sono, de se deslocar através de paredes, de viajar distâncias a velocidades impensáveis, de interagir com outros que estão no mesmo estado ou em outro País. Ler um livro, ouvir uma música, vê um filme. Tudo isso sem perder a consciência, o pensamento lógico e o comando sobre seus movimentos, tal qual fazemos durante o dia. Há quem acredite que Cientistas como Kepler, Einstein e Jung também teriam vivido essa experiência.

Então quem sabe numa noite de meu sono profundo eu viajo até ai e leio seu conto. Rindo muito. Foi só uma brincadeira.
Espero que se divirta no show da Nightwish.
Até mais Fram. Volto na sua próxima postagem.
Boa semana!

Fram Actual said...

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

It has been rare during my life that I have experienced difficulty falling asleep and rarer still that I have experienced a sleepless night -- unless it was by design. Unlike you, Smareis, I like to lie in bed and think and think and think. I have found that if I fall asleep thinking of a particular problem or situation, when I awaken I often will have determined a pathway to proceed and/or a solution to the situation.

Somewhere along the line, I did come to the realization that physical exhaustion is very different than mental exhaustion, and I much prefer the physical type.

It also is interesting that you mention a "human being (who) is able to detach himself from the body during sleep ...." A number of years ago, I did considerable reading and "experimented" (for lack of a better term) with "out of body experiences" and self-hypnosis and "astral projection," both prior to going to sleep at night and during daytime hours. My success rate was an absolute/unequivocal/no-two-ways-about-it zero.

Perhaps, you should try those techniques, Smareis. If you do, I am the curious one, and would like very much for you to tell me the results.

I once did find myself slowly falling through a never-ending, white tunnel. It began as a dream, I believe, but I definitely awakened during it and found I was unable to breathe. It would take too many words to describe the event in its entirety here, but I am convinced had I not been able to fight my way back to breathing and ascend the tunnel in an upward drift, I would have died.

I think I will post again before the week is over. In the meanwhile, winter will be returning in the form of snowfall this evening and on into Tuesday .... bah-humbug ....

Yes, the Nightwish concert was better than I anticipated .... I enjoyed it very much .... as I do your presence, Smareis. Thank you, and see you next time ....

Something special ....