Between work, commuting, family time and tons of everyday tasks, it’s easy to forget to stop and appreciate the small things, yet according to the latest research, we’re a happy bunch!
The World Happiness Report is a UN paper that ranks overall happiness by surveying thousands of people over two years, also taking into consideration things like how healthy the economy is, social support and general freedom. This year’s report saw the UK climb four points to 15th place, putting us in the top 20 happiest countries in the world! Places like Finland, Denmark and Norway took the top spots, but the UK moving up the list saw us outrank places like Ireland, Germany, France and the United States. As a nation, we’re also proof that happiness and giving go hand in hand. Along with being one of the happiest countries in the world, 70% of UK respondents donate to charity in a month, ranking us 4th for generosity.
When we look at all of these good vibes over a regional level, the UK Happiness Index points to high levels of contentment in Winchester and Renfrewshire - the happiest places in England and Scotland. Residents were surveyed around wellbeing, earnings life expectancy and more to create the list.
Why are we so happy?
History, culture, natural beauty and geographic location all play a huge part in making the UK one of the best places to live and explore, but when it comes to personal wellbeing, factors like our relationships, health, jobs, and living location all play a huge role in our overall happiness.
On a national scale, around 9 out of every 10 people report high satisfaction with their lives right now. These people have a few things in common.
• Almost half have a good work-life balance, with 45% happy about the amount of leisure time they have.
• Around 60% of these people also regularly spend time outdoors, ensuring they spend time in nature at least once a week.
• Most of these people exercise regularly, with almost 62% of people spending at least 150 minutes a week doing physical activity.
What makes a happy place?
While places don’t necessarily make us happy, certain ones do boast characteristics that can significantly increase happiness levels. A sense of belonging to a neighbourhood is important to most Brits, with around 69% of people saying they feel happy in their neighbourhood. Safety, access to key services, earnings, property prices and access to natural spaces like parks, forests, the beach and countryside are also major mood boosters.
Those living in Winchester in the South East report an elevated sense of wellbeing overall, with access to services, high earnings and access to the beautiful countryside. From the area’s medieval streets to its proximity to sprawling natural landscapes like Blackwood Forest, the area tops the list as the happiest place to live in England.
Scotland’s East Renfrewshire boasts high levels of happiness thanks to a strong sense of wellbeing overall, low crime levels and high earnings. The area is also surrounded by natural beauty, with several parks and scenic routes to explore, as well as some of the UK’s most beautiful forests, making it the happiest place to live in Scotland.
Five simple ways to practice happiness
1. Improve Your Work-Life Balance: We spend around 67 hours a week seated, largely due to work and commuting. Improve your work-life balance by leaving work on time, avoiding checking emails after hours and on weekends, and by taking time out on weekends and holidays to explore your surroundings.
2. Spend More Time Outdoors: Spending time in green spaces can have a positive impact on mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Whether it’s a weekend staycation to one of the UK’s beautiful forests, beaches or heritage sites, being outside can increase Vitamin D, boost our moods and help us de-stress.
3. Connect with Loved Ones: Around 50% of us admit we want to spend more time with loved ones, and 61% of parents say spending time with family makes them happier.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep is a major factor in overall happiness, and those who have a good quality sleep most nights report a higher sense of wellbeing compared to those who don’t.
5. Take a Time Out: Change up your routine. Whether it’s a digital detox or a weekend trip to one of the UK’s most beautiful places, there’s nothing better than a positive routine change to increase overall happiness and help us de-stress.