Stress levels might be higher and it isn’t always easy to buy a house, but living in a busy city has been linked to increased happiness levels, according to a new study.
Dr Jeanette Bicknell, who works at Toronto’s York University, writes that people feel most content when they feel busy – a feeling that is commonly experienced in fast-paced urban areas. She highlights a study conducted by Robert Levine from the University of California, which investigated the pace of residents in cities from 31 countries.
“In U.S. studies, the happiest people reported that they were busy, in the sense that they had little excess time, yet did not feel rushed. Like big-city dwellers, they seemed to thrive at a faster pace,” said Bicknell in her science blog Nautilus.
“Among individuals in a society, busyness – or the feeling of busyness – seems to be an important factor in well-being. That feeling of busyness—of having a lot to do and too little time in which to do it is often associated with stress and anxiety. However in many contexts being “busy” is badge of honour: Busy parents are seen as devoted to their children’s well-being, the busy real estate agent must be closing lots of sales, and the busy lawyer can charge a premium hourly rate.”
The research also showed a positive correlation between the speed in which people lead their lives and a healthy economy, which Bicknell said could be another contributing happiness factor – that people, based on this study at least, tend to have more money in cities.
The insights support another study released last year, which said that – as a result of inner-city residents being more socially engaged and active than those in quieter areas – those who live in metropolis’ make for happier, healthier people. The research, conducted by University of Oxford and the University of Hong Kong, said that people based in built-up areas are less likely to be obese and exercised more than those who live in suburbia or otherwise.
“If we can convince policy makers that this is a public health opportunity, we can build well-designed communities, and in the long term you have made a big difference in health outcomes,” its co-author Chinmoy Sarkar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“With evidence, we can plan multi-functional, attractive neighbourhoods that promote physical activity, promote social interaction, and shield from negatives such as pollution and feeling unsafe.”
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK