So it seems that the happiest place to live in the UK according to the recent Office of National Statistics are the Western Isles. Given the debate about the validity of measuring happiness why are Eilean Siar, Orkney & Shetland top of the list followed by Rutland and Anglesey happy places to be? I suppose the answer is shaped by the fact that the bottom three is Swansea, County Durham and Blackpool. I can vouch for Blackpool. It’s ironic that a town that badges itself as a fun place to spend time is the unhappiest. In the same way I suppose, Las Vegas is really depressing.
So why are these far away places the happiest? Is it because a few un-happy moved there to be happy?
In terms of place making there must be a whole range of factors. I can think of 6 for example. People who live in the Western Isles must have a day-to-day experience of:
1. Living in a reasonably low-density place, close to the sea but living very much in tune with the landscape, the seasons and weather. I.e. close to nature.
2. Limited crime or the scene of crime and where the population are reasonably connected and known to each other, a real sense of community.
3. A place of real distinctness, character and identity, which fosters a sense of belonging.
4. A community where money and therefore illusionary status and appearance needed for continuous consumption is not central to daily life.
5. Where advertising is pointless as there is no reason to buy superfluous stuff, or in fact anywhere to but it.
6. Finally is it something to do with being in the West? Although I’m not sure how Blackpool fits in with that…
Sounds great, doesn’t it?