Happiness has a lot more going for it than simply making you happy.
Scientific studies have shown it actually makes people more physically healthy and improves the immune system, reports Mark Holder, an associate professor in psychology who studies the science of happiness at UBCO.
It also improves career success and even investment returns—if you invest in a happy company—and it results in better relationships.
Happiness also makes you better at forgiving. “Being vengeful is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die,” he commented, in a talk to delegates to this week’s Building Sustainable Communities conference being put on by the Fresh Outlook Foundation in Kelowna.
Happy people have more tolerance, increased creativity and longer life—an average of 7.2 years longer.
Happiness is also linked to how you’re judged by others and it makes you better-looking and more competent-looking, he said.
There are also many things around us that can influence our feelings of happiness, from natural features to front porches.
Holder says where there are water features there’s a stronger sense of community as there is where people use their front porches.
Green spaces and pathways, if used to enhance leisure instead of just for exercise, also improve communities, as do community gardens—while they encourage social relationships.
Multi-use space also enhance social relationships and community satisfaction.
Nature enhances people’s feelings of well-being, physical health, and relieves fatigue. In fact, he says even virtual nature, such as videos and photos of nature have that affect.
Community satisfaction is also enhanced by proximity to green space, while exercise equipment in green spaces draws people, but it’s important it be arranged so people face each other, he said.
The work done on strategies and programs to promote well-being and the science of happiness by Holder and his team are being used by the developer of New Monaco in Peachland, Mark Holland.
The New Monaco Enterprise Corporation is planning a 125-acre sustainably-planned neighbourhood in the northwest corner of Peachland, between the Okanagan Connector and Highway 97.
Holland told delegates health is the new top line in housing projects, and their goal is to make Monaco the healthiest neighbourhood in Canada.
Within the same neighbourhood, the plan is to include places where people can live, work, play, shop, learn and pray. “People live longer in a mixed-use neighbourhood,” he commented.
Parks and trails will be incorporated throughout the development as will gardens.
Daily gardening results in a 36 per cent lower risk of dementia, he noted.