The bustling streets of big cities like London and New York can be daunting for some, and it’s well-known that both stress levels and housing costs are often much higher for those who live in them. But now an expert has suggested that in spite of this, living in a busy city actually increases your happiness.
Dr Jeanette Bicknell of Toronto’s York University claims that people feel the most content when they are busy, and naturally, this is a feeling most common among those who live in urban areas due to their fast-paced nature. In her writing, she focuses on a study by the University of California’s Robert Levine, who 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,’ Bicknell wrote in a post on 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.’
Her research is backed up by one of a similar nature. In 2017, researchers from Oxford University and University of Hong Kong conducted a study in which they assessed the health of 419,562 individuals from 22 British cities. They too concluded that those living in higher-density areas were most likely to lead both happier and more active lives than those living in suburban regions.
Now all we need to do is remember this the next time we’re squished into a tube carriage…