Urban Canada may be growing in population but Rural Canada is bursting in happiness.

By Sarah Liverance

The UN’s World Happiness Report for 2015 was recently released. It’s full of interesting and arguable findings but the most interesting thing of all is that the UN is even doing a study like this. Thank you Bhutan for boldly introducing the world to the Gross National Happiness measure.

For me, the most intuitive finding in the World Happiness Report is that happiness levels are higher in rural communities than in large cities. I’ll be one of the first to sing the praises of Toronto when it comes to a vibrant multi-cultural, major league city. It’s one of the greatest on the planet. But it comes with a price (literally and figuratively) that’s hard for some of us to pay. So five years ago my husband and I bailed out of Toronto and set up camp in small town Uxbridge.

Just the other day I had one more of those “oh man, I love Uxbridge” experiences. I ran into our local coffee shop, the Tin Cup Caffe for a hot chocolate.  A family of four was ahead of me in line. The kids were struggling with some big decisions. My husband and dogs were waiting in the car. I work in Toronto. I’m not 100% small town Zen. My inner “you gotta be kidding me” voice started yapping. And then Dad politely suggested that I go ahead while they sorted things out. Happiness experience (HE) #1.

HE #2 came when Dawna welcomed me with a brilliant smile and asked, “Hot chocolate, no whipped cream, right?” This happens frequently with “the regulars” in Toronto’s neighbourhood coffee shops so not really a big deal. Except…I hadn’t been to the Tin Cup in about three months and have been there fewer than twelve times in the five years I’ve lived in Uxbridge. Impressive!

HE #3 came when I mentioned I was going to run to the washroom while they prepped my drink. Said washroom was occupied so when I returned to the counter quite quickly, Dawna asked if everything was ok with the washroom. When I reported it was occupied, she took great delight in ushering me (I mean literally taking me) to the second washroom I never even knew they had. Lovely!

Now comes HE #4 and this is big. I’ve now decided my husband and I could each use one of their really good hermit cookies for the drive. I ask for two pointing to the plate in the display case. Dawna winks and tells me she’s got some really fresh ones still warm from the oven and packages those up for me. Really?! You don’t want to get rid of the slightly older ones that I’m pointing to and am clearly perfectly satisfied with? I’m blown away enough to write this blog.

No single one of these experiences is exclusive to small town Ontario but you put them all together and we have support for at least one of the World Happiness Report findings. And now I’ll raise a mug to toast Dawna, Jennifer and Robert at the Tin Cup for doing their part to spread happiness every day. It’s contagious!

Here at SW&A we love the happiness topic. If you do too, be sure to see “The Happy Movie” plus blogs on this topic from my Partner, Jen Marley: