“Happiness is two kinds of ice cream / Finding your skate key, telling the time / Happiness is learning to whistle / Tying your shoe for the very first time…”
So go the first few lines from the well-loved and timeless tune from then child-singer, now international musical sensation and Filipina cultural icon, Lea Salonga.
Happiness, apparently, is also defined as having an above average household net-adjusted disposable income, being gainfully employed, healthy civic engagement and good governance, quality of life, and long life expectancy, among other factors.
Though not exactly definitions coming from the heart of a young, carefree lass whose primary life-concerns include ice cream flavours, these are among the definitions of the word’s denizens; part of the criteria in selecting the happiest places to live, worldwide.
This year’s list of World’s Happiest Countries, released in May 2013 by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), has Australia in the happiest spot, weighing in at number one.
Canada, which has been on the list several years in succession, ranked 8th on this year’s roster.
The OECD list, which is based on 11 categories for each country’s “Better Life Index”, determines happiness rankings based on a combination of factors in the areas of housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance.
Aside from the OECD list of happiest countries, the United Nations Human Development Index says that Canada has the highest quality of life in the world making it an ideal place to live and raise a family.
Here are just some reasons why Canada is viewed as a better place to live, as cited by Mac Lean’s Canada:
- Canadians have a long life expectancy. According to studies, the life expectancy in Canada is an average of 77 years for men, and around 84 years for women.
- Canadians know how to say “sorry”, and saying “sorry” is good for you. Canadians are often mocked for constantly apologizing, but research shows that saying sorry can boost happiness and strengthen relationships.
- The Better Life Index reveals that Canadians are more satisfied with their lives than citizens of other countries. Canadians generally enjoy a higher level of life satisfaction.
- Good education. Canada’s schools must be doing something right. Canadian 15-year-olds routinely score in the top 10 of 65 countries that participate in the OECD’s reading, math and science tests.
- Lower suicide rates, lower healthcare costs, less marriages ending up in divorce; 50-week maternal/paternal leave: just some factors that add to overall well-being.
- Better financial status. Canada’s average household net worth of $363,000 is higher than other countries.
- Better work-life balance, with only 3.9 percent of Canadian employees regularly clocking 50-hour workweeks.
- Greater economic freedom, as listed by the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom. Canada scores 6th place, while America comes in 10th. This is credited to a more sound system of public finances.
- More social mobility, which is measured by intergenerational changes in income between sons and their fathers. Figures are twice as high in Canada as in the U.S. This indicates that a son born to a poor father in the U.S. is twice as likely to remain poor throughout his life; compared to if he had been born in Canada.
- A study conducted by BMO Financial Group reveals that more immigrants to Canada strike it rich, with nearly half of self-made Canadian millionaires coming from immigrant or second-generation resident backgrounds.
Just ten reasons, out of many, that Canada puts a smile on your face.
Personally, I would add to the list that the Great White North seems to have an innate sense of humour: What other part of the globe has locations like Balls Falls (a conservation area in Ontario), Crotch Lake (also in Ontario), and Dildo, Newfoundland (a town name capable of inducing a guffaw or giggle in even the most stoic of persons)?
Where else can you find a country where “The Order of the Jedi” (yes, the Star Wars kind) is an official, state-approved philosophy, bordering on religion? I kid you not. “Jediism is not fiction. Our ways are based on ancient wisdom as well as modern philosophies. Our ways are modern adaptations of Taoism and Buddhism. We encourage activities that cultivate physical and mental health, such as martial arts and meditation. ‘Jediism’ is a term inspired by films created by Mr. George Lucas.”: Just one of their many galactic tenets.
Or a country where the postal service actually answers kids’ letters to Santa? It’s true. The Canada Post has been replying to “letters to Santa” for some years now; numbering roughly one million letters replied to over the years, as of last Christmas.
Oh, and Canada Post also has a service that allows you to put your face on a postage stamp. How narcissistically cool is that?
There are nineteen registered political parties in Canada, including ones seemingly far out on left-field: the Marijuana Party, the Pirate Party, the Rhinoceros Party, and the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, to name a few.
This innate humour comes with an outward beauty, both natural and man-made: icebergs in Newfoundland; the Aurora Borealis, viewed best from Yellowknife (with 2013 marked as a peak year for viewing, given the sun’s 11-year cycle); Quebec has a fabulous Hotel de Glace – an Ice Hotel; Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper is the world’s most accessible glacier; the Trans Canada Trail, which at present is 16,800 km long, is the world’s longest – and it isn’t done yet.
The list of fun, unique environmental activities is seemingly endless: swimming with polar bears in Cochrane, Ontario; in the summer, Wednesday afternoon yoga sessions on the lawn of the nation’s capital, Parliament Hill; taking walks among dinosaur fossils in the East Block of Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan; just some off a lengthy list of happy “to-do’s” in Canada.
All these – and way more – happiness-inducing factors!
Plus, your two kinds of ice cream will generally keep from melting in Canada; no matter what time of the year it may be.
Sources : Mac Lean’s Canada, Nairaland Forum, Order of the Jedi, Reader’s Digest Canada, OECD Better Life Index, RandomHistory.com