Opinion: Don’t worry B.C. — look on the bright side

Courtesy Nick Noble
A rainbow stretches across Quatsino Sound on Vancouver Island Saturday, June 11, 2022.

The most shocking statistic this week is that British Columbians are the unhappiest people in Canada.

Here we are, living in la-la-land, renowned for our laid-back west coast lifestyle, content in the knowledge that we live in “the best place in the world” and even Manitobans, with their helicopter-sized mosquitoes and people living in Saskatchewan, where it snows 13 months of the year, are happier than we are.

The findings, by the Canadian Social Survey, measured life satisfaction in every province, in areas such as health, well-being, activities, use of time and emergency preparedness.

The happiest people in Canada — with 61.7 per cent of people reporting high life satisfaction — were in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The lowest, with just 46.5 per cent of respondents reporting high life satisfaction: British Columbia.

Prince Edward Island is in second place on the happy list (59.7 per cent), Quebec third (58.7), New Brunswick fourth (56.8) Manitoba fifth (56.1), Alberta sixth (52.2) and Saskatchewan seventh. (51.2).

So more people in these provinces are happy than unhappy.

In Nova Scotia, which is in eighth place (49.9), Ontario ninth (48.4) and British Columbia 10th (46.5) more people are unhappy than happy. There are legitimate reasons for our unhappiness. If you’re a young person, your chances of renting or buying even a corrugated hut are becoming increasingly out of reach.

The weather, since the beginning of the year, has sucked. Big time. Our gas prices are the highest in the country. And so on and so on (pick whatever depresses you).

But really. Is that what we want to be known for? The most miserable people in this country? Newfoundland is one of the poorest provinces in Canada, with much to justifiably moan about, but it looks like most people there look on the bright side of life.

They are the Great Big Sea of this country: upbeat and positive and kinda fun.

We are Sarah McLachlan and Diana Krall. Introspective. Moody. When we should be more Michael Buble. Or Bubbly.

That doesn’t mean we need to put our heads in the sand. Yes, we have major problems here. But so does everyone else in this country.

We need to work on them. Big time.

But I’d rather live in a province of optimism and hope, of people feeling good about each other, and a place where we all help one another, than live in a pessimistic, unhappy place full of cynics and critics and whiners where we’re all dragged down into a quagmire of depression.

I always find it interesting when they do those surveys about the happiest countries in the world that the likes of Finland and Sweden and Denmark — colder countries — win out over Mediterranean or seemingly more exotic climes. Good weather isn’t everything, even if we are rather smug about the relative lack of snow on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

As Monty Python said in their Bright Side of Life song:

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best

That means counting our blessings — breathing in that clean air, enjoying walks or just sitting by the ocean, biking along country lanes or along the Goose, haunting book shops in Sidney or volunteering at a shelter or checking up on your neighbour and, and…

Think about all the people who would love to live here too.

Veteran journalist and writer Ian Haysom is consulting editor with CHEK Media

Ian Haysom

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