Happy as a Canadian clam

(Megan Cooke/AQ)
A new study shows that Canadians are some of the world’s happiest people (Megan Cooke/AQ)

When a group of St. Thomas University students were asked why they thought Canadians are so happy, it was seconds before second-year student Kayla Clark said, “It’s the people, everyone is so accepting and that makes others happy.”

We Canadians know why we’re happy but it has now been recognized in a nationwide study.

According to the latest Earth Institutes World Happiness Report, Canadians are among the happiest people on the planet, ranking number six in a list of 156 countries.

The survey evaluates variables such as GDP, life expectancy, social support, generosity of fellow citizens, state of the economy, perceptions of corruption and the freedom to make life choices.

Countries in current economic turmoil like Spain, Greece and Portugal had the greatest decline in happiness over the past year.

The Northern European countries made it in the top ten with Denmark first. Norway followed in second with Sweden and Finland ranking fifth and seventh. Rwanda, Burundi and Togo came in last in the study.

Canada’s slip from last year’s position at five was nothing compared to the sharp fall of the United States to 17.

An array of different beliefs and ideas arose among STU students when asked why Canada was ranked so highly compared to our neighbouring country. A common idea started surfacing. Canadians are generally more polite to each other. We see that every day on the beautiful and welcoming streets of Fredericton.

“It’s not uncommon to say hi or ask how someone is and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger,” said Kate Oulton, a second-year student and Fredericton native.

A group of international students said they felt happier in Canada because they were surrounded by beauty. They said everywhere you look Canada’s nature can be admired, even in big cities.

African and Southeast-Asian countries had some of the highest levels of increased happiness due to the social support their people receive. Decreased political and economic corruption also caused a significant increase of happiness when it came to countries in Eastern Europe and Latin America, making the general income equality seen in Canada another contributing factor to its bliss, not to mention the universal health care and public education.

“The word ‘happiness’ is not used lightly. Happiness is an aspiration of every human being and can also be a measure of social progress,” the report states.

The United Nations started tracking “gross national Happiness” in 2010. The movement began in Bhutan, where the government wanted to make happiness a priority in policy making. Countries such as Britain, Germany, South Korea and many more have since made happiness a concern in their decision making.

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