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Hay’s Daze: Where are you on the happiness index?


Did you know that you are quite happy? Like, an 8 out of 10 level of happy? Well, apparently we all are 80% happy because a recent official survey is telling us that we are. And, guess what – you are even happier if you live at the East Coast, Quebec or (of course) B.C.

It’s called the “Happiness Index” and it’s a national survey inflicted upon a bunch of people by a market research company called Leger. This survey (and aren’t all surveys totally true and 100% accurate?) has found that, among other factors, there are two main – and rather unsurprising – takeaways.

As reported by CBC, first, the survey “suggests Canadians are happier after age 55”. This is probably because seniors are generally just pleased that they are still on this side of the grass. But Leger’s president of communications, Dave Scholz (who is not a senior and therefore likely a bit unhappy) is quoted as saying Canadians “55 and over [are] happiest because they’re in the place they want to be – retired”. Well the place most people I know who are retired is Hawaii but we’ll take Dave’s word for it.

Apparently, the second cause of higher levels of ha-ha happiness for Canukians is having a really good dental plan, especially if you happen to have a lot of tooth aches. Sorry, I fibbed a bit there – I got a little personal for a moment. What the survey actually said was happiness is increased for people when they earn a higher income. Hmm, I think I just heard a chorus of readers saying, right out loud: “You THINK??” But here’s an interesting contradiction that either proves that humans are complicated or that surveys are – what’s the technical word for it? Oh yeah: “ bunk”. Paradoxically, the Happiness Index also found that “only eight per cent said the state of their finances was a key driver of their happiness”. Confused? I know I am.

It seems participants (probably the rich ones) reported that what influenced their level of happiness was not, in fact, moola. The most was a “sense of freedom”, and “the belief they were living the life they had imagined for themselves”. Well, there we are daydreaming about Hawaii again! But Mr. “Unhappypants” Scholtz once again attempts to clarify: “Maybe making more money means that you can do more things (and) that allows you to feel happy – but money itself is not what people believe makes them happy”. Fair enough, but I wouldn’t mind personally checking out this “more money means happiness” concept. I think several million smackers would do nicely for a little experiment, eh?

But they say there are other factors that are important in determining levels of happiness that don’t revolve around the almighty Loonie. One is a having a satisfying romantic relationship, which certainly applies to every adult and to those Over-55s who still remember what the word “romance” means. The other one, of course, is health which also applies to every person, and especially the Over-55s who are trying to remember what the word “healthy” means.

The key, according to research from Harvard University (and isn’t all Harvard research totally true and 100% accurate?) is to “combat time poverty”. Harvard people define time poverty as ‘feeling overwhelmed by demands of work and life’. They advise all of us occasionally bummed-out people to choose time over money. Which is fine, except most of us don’t seem to have enough of either.

Not to be all New-Agey about it, but all these surveys and researchers are telling us the secret in this quest for happiness comes down to being “in the moment”. But probably not in Ontario. Our second biggest province ranked dead last in the Happiness Index. Hmm, that’s where Ottawa is. Coincidence?

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Reach out to Harley with any thoughts or ideas at